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Joy in the Workplace: Maintaining Relationships with Humor

Would you like to win more friends and influence people? Create a more harmonious and team-oriented work environment? How about rise to the next level in your career? And letís not forget about enjoying your personal life more? What does it take? The answer is simple; itís knowing how to use your sense of humor to create more joy in your life.

Adding humor to your life does not involve knowing how to tell a joke, a funny story or making others laugh. Itís a process; a way of looking at the world that puts problems into perspective and gives you the energy and time to deal with them. Itís being able to stop and look at the situation to see how it can be handled in a lighthearted manner.

There are several creative ways to reduce stress in the workplace. The most important attitude you can develop is to "take it easy." This suggestion bombards us from every direction, but very few of us are smart enough to follow the advice we receive. I once read about a physician who regularly took out her Rx pad and wrote the words "take it easy" on it and then handed it to her patients. It wasnít until the patient saw it as an order that the physicianís words took on meaning.

Maybe itís a good thing that there is no magic pill for changing oneís life. It should be the input that we receive from the people who care about us most that makes us stop, reflect and see life for all itís worth.

For centuries people have been saying that laughter is the best medicine. As it turns out, there is scientific evi-dence to prove that this is true. If laughter is so good for us, then why donít we laugh more? There are several reasons. One is, that in our quest for political correctness, we seem to have forgotten how to have fun. And the situation seems to be getting worse.

People appear to be stifling their ability to enjoy themselves because they are not quite sure whatís appropriate and whatís not. To determine this, use the following as a guideline. Ask yourself this question: In your best judgment, is what you are about to do or say going to make a positive and favorable impression on your audience, taking into consideration that your audience can be your secretary, your supervisor or your spouse?

There are plenty of ways to enjoy your relationship with
your co-workers and colleagues without feeling that, if you do,
you are going to get a subpoena from Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

There is a misconception that reveal-ing your lighter side to colleagues and clients will make you appear less professional. In todayís demanding and ever-changing business envi-ronment, your chances of success will be even greater if you learn to develop your most valuable sense of allóyour sense of humor.

People who are flexible and healthy, who have a balanced lifestyle
and donít take themselves too seriously, lead more fulfilling lives.

By taking the following steps to help ward off workplace stressors, you will be taking the first step toward maintaining your sense of humor.

Put Latitude in Your Attitude at Work

  • Stop obsessing over what goes wrong and start enjoying how much goes right. Celebrate victories with co-workers. Have a pizza and (root) beer party!
  • Limit anxiety and learn to assign less power to stress-producing events. Spend more time concentrating on accomplishments.
  • Whether you are looking for a new job or not, once a year, write a resume. Youíll be amazed at all of your accomplishments.
  • Find several tools and techniques to cope with your stressors (stress-producing events and/or people) and take steps to limit them.

Donít let the stress of something as small as running late for an appointment control your attitude, that is, the outcome. Should you find yourself in this situation, stop and phone the person. Youíll be surprised at how free your mind will become to focus on the real meaning of the meeting. Treat your workday like you would a visit to a buffet. Sample a little of several foods, and youíll be more satisfied than if you piled your plate full of only one item. (Except, of course, if the buffet is full of lobster or chocolate chip cookies!)

  • Create more time by dividing your workday into eight effective hours.
  • Identify your professional network. Have someone you can talk to when youíre at your wits end.
  • Meet with your colleagues frequently. Skip the staid lunchógo out for a banana split! Talk about stressors. Find out how others cope with them. Learn from your peers.
  • Reduce tension by channeling your energy into things that matter most.
  • Let go of the things that donít matter. Just Say No! And donít let guilt factor in.

If asked to volunteer for a job you know you donít have time foróhave an out. Say something like: "Thank you for asking me to chair the Chilly Willy Cook Off, but my schedule does not permit it. I wish you success, and I hope to be there."

  • Deal with, divide up and delegate work. Just Ask For Help!

Learn how to ask for help at the start of a project. Youíll double your chances of success. If you wait until the 11th hour, youíll find that rallying the troops will be nearly impossible, and youíll be setting yourself up for pain and disappointment.

  • Give yourself permission to enjoy your personal life. Find something, if possible several activities, that really motivate you, and "Just Do It."

Start Today

Bring the same enthusiasm that you have, say for bike riding, cooking, volunteer work, playing the piano or coaching little league, into the workplace. Being enthusiastic will help you become more productive, give you more energy and allow you to be more effective on the job.

Watch your creativity soar as you apply to the workplace what youíve learned in your personal life through those fulfilling activities youíve been enjoying. See how quickly you become more skilled at dealing with stress and find new appreciation for your environment. Youíre bound to be a whole lot happier.

Allie Bowling is a motivational speaker on the subject of workplace humor. Bowling is the CEO, "Chief Empress Officer" of Comedically Correct! She can be reached at her email - allie@alliebowling.com - or at her website - www.AllieBowling.com.

Reprinted with permission from the National Telephone Cooperative Association. Article appeared in the 2000 September/October issue of RURAL Telecommunications.


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