Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: workplace humor

What does it take to “connect” with your employees?

Last week I was working in Honolulu HI (yea I know, tough :)) and as I took a walk one evening, I came across this homeless man taking a quick nap on the sidewalk.


I realize the picture isn’t completely in focus, but if you can’t read it, his sign says “Why Lie, Need Beer.  Mahalo.  God bless.”  After I laughed out loud, I stopped for a few minutes to observe other people’s reactions.  In the five minutes that I stood there, unseen in the shadows, I saw 17 people stop and read his sign, and (this was the one that surprised me) 14 give him their spare change.  Continue reading

Have a sense of humor! It will stand you in good stead

So you’ve probably seen the latest “video-gone-viral – how professional violinist Lukas Kmit handled the situation when an errant cell phone went off during his performance. If you haven’t, take 90 seconds to do so below.

Funny, right? But what I really liked about this clip is that it demonstrates how presence of mind and a sense of humor can turn what could have been an ugly situation into something much much more pleasant. It would have been so easy for the violinist to have lost his cool; after all, “turn off your cell phones” had probably been announced several times before the concert started. But instead, he kept his wits about him and turned something bad into something great. As a result, he’s probably gotten more publicity in the last week than he got previously in his entire career!

So is there a message there for the rest of us? I think so! In our day-to-day work lives, we face a myriad of unexpected situations, many of which can be professionally devastating if we don’t respond appropriately. Two things can make such situations better:

  1. Not taking ourselves too seriously (Lukas Kmit didn’t)
  2. Giving ourselves permission to improvise (Lukas Kmit certainly did)

Can you think of situations at work where doing these two things could have (or did) make the outcome better? Do share!

Subversive workplace humor can be a cover for some uncomfortable truths

My good friend and professional colleague Mike Kerr is known as the Workplace Energizer because of his focus on using humor to create inspiring workplaces.  I am honored to have him as my guest blogger today as he makes the case for not getting TOO politically correct.  Don’t get me wrong … he’s certainly not suggesting that we be disrespectful to one another in the workplace, but he is offering a different and interesting perspective.

Reading Between the Punch Lines

I think we spend too much time, frankly, worrying about practicing “safe humor” in the workplace. Yes, we need to be sensitive about using certain types of inappropriate humor,  and of course there is humor in the workplace that should be off limits.   Racists or sexist or otherwise offensive humor that bullies people or divides people or offends your customers is obviously not what any healthy, inspiring workplace should be aiming for.

To me, it’s about common sense and basic respect: two things you can’t “legislate” at work.

So having said all that, here’s my concern.

First, too many workplaces that are too hypersensitive about this topic risk creating sterile, boring workplaces where all humor is off-limits, risks are minimized and doing anything different gets you in trouble.   Hardly an inspiring workplace! Continue reading