According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, Organization Culture: Leading with Humor, there are many benefits to appropriate humor: reduced stress, higher productivity, improved creativity, as well as greater interest in collaboration and analytic precision. Research also indicates that most employees want to work in a fun environment that also values safety and respect.

I know what you’re thinking – not everyone thinks the same thing is funny! Hasn’t HR repeatedly told us to be very careful with humor and jokes; an easy way to step into a pile of trouble?

Is there a way to find the right balance at work; to be respectful of various perspectives while lightening up the day? Here are a few suggestions from The Humor Code, written by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner.

  • It’s not whether or not you’re funny, it’s what kind of funny you are. Be honest and authentic.
  • If you can’t be “ha-ha” funny, at least be “aha!” funny. Cleverness is sometimes good enough.
  • Don’t be afraid to chuckle at yourself. It signals everything is okay.
  • Laughter is disarming. Poke fun at the stuff everyone’s worried about.

And one final suggestion, to check in on whether a colleague’s amusement is real and not faked, look for crinkling around the eyes; if it’s there, you’ve achieved true “Duchenne” enjoyment (named for the French physician who identified the muscular reaction).

If you’re interested in learning more about your humor type, click here to complete a Humor Typology Assessment, created by Stanford University colleagues Dr. Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas. The resulting profile is based on their research findings of four primary humor styles: the Stand-up, the Sweetheart, the Magnet, and the Sniper.