Humor Will Save Your Career
I’m officially a year and four months into my first ever job, and if I can’t say anything else, I can certainly say this: I have definitely learned a lot. I’ve learned about my roles, my coworkers, and myself. I’ve learned to send that extra followup email even if I’m 80% sure the task got finished, I’ve learned to say “No, I can’t get to that today…or this decade really,” and most importantly, I’ve learned to laugh. I’ve learned to laugh at myself, my goofs, my blunders, my ambitions, and my struggles, and it’s done more than keep me sane. Laughter’s not just a coping mechanism, it’s an improvement mechanism. Here’s how learning to laugh (and laugh hard, like, ugly hard) at myself is making me better at my job:
It Makes Honest Self Critique A Lot Easier
Learn to tell good jokes about yourself: how you forgot your wallet on the way to work only to come home and discover that you’d left it in the freezer. About the time that you accidentally elbowed your boss in the nose at a company party. About the grade school-level spelling mistake you left in that presentation or the time you dozed off in a meeting. Will the laughing make these things right? No, but it will make them okay, and it will get you in the habit of calling yourself out on stupid shit you’ve done without feeling like it’s the end of the world. Learning to laugh at the things I’ve gotten wrong or the flaws I’m working through makes self examination more normal and less scary. And you know what? By the time you’re turning around to tell me what I did wrong, I’m already cataloguing it, with footnotes, because it is going to make great material later. And I’m going to work on getting better, too, so I can start making new mistakes. Gotta keep getting new material :)
It Makes You More Pleasant To Work With (Duh)
Seriously. Every job has hard days, days that just suck with a capital uck, and on those days, the coworkers that have been able to make me laugh, the ones that give everyone in the room a reminder that we’ll get through and be able to do so with a smile, those people are worth their weight in gold. Keep in mind that there’s a fine line between being the office jokester and being the obnoxious person who doesn’t take anything seriously or constantly wants attention, but it can’t hurt your relationship with the people around you to be a bright spot in their day.
It Can Ease The Anxiety Around Tasks
I’m still not sure if I 100% believe the idea that smiling or laughing really hard can actually improve your mood, but I do know that making jokes or just adopting a wry, slightly ironic outlook on life helps me to see myself from the outside. It lets me get some distance from the otherwise intense emotions and high-stakes feelings that could leave me anxiety-crying over some spreadsheet. If this presentation we’re about to make was really a matter of life and death, my mouth and lungs tell my brain, would we really be giggling like this? Of course not! We’re fine. It’s not always a perfect solution (see sentence one of this paragraph), but it works more often than not.
So go forth! Laugh! Laugh like your life (and career) depends on it.