CAREFUL WITH THE JOKES 3

CAREFUL WITH THE JOKES

A mature sense of humor enables people to tease and laugh with others in a kind and gentle way, and to laugh at themselves without any trace of self — consciousness. The ability to make others smile is a gift; the ability to elicit laughter is also a business tool. But you should always use humor with care.

Whenever you feel like injecting a joke into a conversation, make sure it is at no one’s expense; ethnic, racial, religious, or gender-based humor is not worth the risk of hurting someone else’s feelings or soiling your repetition. Also, be careful about naming names, insulting your own and other companies, or attacking causes. Telling that hilarious joke about Alcoholics will mark the jokester as an insensitive boob when a coworker is in treatment or has lost a loved one to alcoholism.

Until you get to know people very well, it’s probably best to leave the jokes at home. Remember, too, that humor and jokes are not the same thing. The workplace is not a comedy club; if you can’t get a punch line straight, don’t step on stage. Some of our greatest humorists, from Mark Twain to Garrison Keillor, have rarely told jokes, instead dealing in sly observations on the whole human condition. They understand that good humor, unlike bad jokes, is natural, healthy, and best when shared with others.