Aurelia Flores: Keeping it 'Light' at Work

Keeping your sense of humor at work is a good thing! Laughter truly can be the best medicine – even at the office.

Being playful, fun and even silly in the workplace can be good for morale, and for your career.

Why Play is Important

A sense of play, excitement and joy is exactly what you need from time to time.  A partial definition of play is to “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation.”

Both you and your supervisors want to feel that you are doing things that give you pleasure, and that your work is (at least somewhat) fun for you.  To the extent your work feels like drudgery, you need to “lighten it up” a bit.

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If you can get into the excitement of a project, or a particular kind of activity, it makes the work seem easier, and the atmosphere a bit more bright.

This makes you a happier worker, and translates into overall productivity.

Playfulness Can Breed Creativity

When we are able to “color outside the lines” and be creative, we can approach problems with a new perspective, and be a good problem solver.

Bringing a sense of playfulness to our workload can allow us to envision different outcomes, and work more fluidly in groups.

For this reason, and more, play can be beneficial to the bottom line.

Playfulness and Fun Brings Teams Together

The team that is able to joke around, have fun, and make others laugh is one that is able to bond, and work together well.

Humor and Levity Go Along with Play

Take yourself (and others) lightly.  Very rarely is a mistake “deadly” – unless you’re a brain surgeon, in which case, don’t read this article.  Be serious. Be very serious!

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But the rest of you…  If you can’t smile at your own mistakes – and that of others – then you are not seeing it with a broader perspective. When we can laugh at ourselves (and be forgiving of others), then the workplace becomes less threatening, and more welcoming.

Laughter Makes You Happy

Laughter releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” hormones.  So if you need a quick pick-me-up, find a humorous website, tell a joke to a friend, or find something that tickles your funny bone.

While Play and Humor are Vital to the Workplace, Keep in Mind A Few Don’ts…

Don’t Tell Jokes at Someone’s Expense (except if it’s your own)

Telling jokes that puts someone on the defensive, or makes one person the butt of the joke, can be the fastest way to ruin team morale.  Even self-deprecating humor – which can be appreciated from time to time – should be used sparingly. Although you don’t want to take yourself TOO seriously, you also want others to know you care about your work product and your image.

Don’t Be the Perennial Jokester 

Although a clever comedian can be fun – on occasion – you don’t want to be viewed as someone who is not capable of being serious. There is a time and place for everything.

Don’t Engage in Harmful Pranks 

You don’t want to create an environment where others don’t feel safe around you, or always have to be on the lookout. Humor and play should bring people closer together, not keep them looking over their shoulder.

Never Use Off Color Humor

Telling jokes that use sexual innuendo or make fun of someone’s religion, race, sexual orientation or other unique traits is never in good taste – and can lead to legal repercussions. Keep the humor G-rated (and politically correct) at the office!

Being playful at work is important.  Keep in mind a couple of rules of the road. And bring on the laughter, creativity and levity to the workplace.

Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website,, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.

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