Humor plays a serious role in your communication with other people. Humor can be used to make a point or to diffuse a situation. When used about yourself, humor demonstrates your humility and can sometimes disarm a difficult situation. Before we discuss using humor, it is important to understand that humor in a business setting is not telling jokes—unless there is a business point being made. Humor is not mean-spirited. It is not making fun of a person or group, and it is not schoolyard use of forbidden words. Humor is a powerful tool that aids communication and fosters understanding.
Primary rule: Use humor about situations and not people unless the person is you.
The types of humor that may work well in a business setting include anecdotes, situational humor, animal stories that serve as training metaphors, and acknowledgment of absurdities or contradictions in practice. According to Professor Jeffery Goldstein of Temple University, “people, who use more humor, tend to wield more influence over group decisions. Good, effective leaders combine communications and persuasion skills with an appropriate touch of humor to get their message across and to win support for their ideas.”