Workplace humor: Mastering the double-edged sword

Your sharp wit can draw blood—sometimes your own—so wield it well, and know when to sheathe it.

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“We need a rights group for those of us who were born innately sarcastic, so our voice will be taken seriously.” —Local programming executive (who is also my son).

Although the executive in question was speaking in jest, he’s right about being taken seriously.

Though clever and sometimes even hilarious, sarcasm can be a double-edged sword for the professional who’s ready to be taken seriously when it comes to completing a project or simply getting ahead.

On the other hand, humor in business can be a remarkable gift. Not only does clever humor help a person come across as, well, clever, but studies have proven that the typical deadpan executive, the gifted person who can make someone who seems uptight start to snicker, is nearly always a professional winner.

A Robert Half International survey, for example, found that 91 percent of executives believe a sense of humor is important for career advancement, and 84 percent feel that people with a good sense of humor do a better job.

Skilled use of humor gets a point across, lightens a mood and is, in many respects, better than therapy for brightening the workplace and energizing all who come your way.

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