The Importance of Humour in the Workplace

We chatted to the bubbly Mari Schourie, CEO of XtraSpace FlexiOffice T/A The Workspace, who is responsible for the development and growth of the coworking and serviced office business. Mari has 17 years’ in-depth experience in this industry – her experience includes the management of commercial properties and providing business strategies to companies. 

Here’s what Mari had to say about humour in the workplace:

Laugh your way to success
I understand people and how to get the best out of them and I would say it’s humour that gets my team and I through a difficult day. I feel passionate about heading up mentorship programmes and believe wholeheartedly in the power of collaborating with likeminded people and businesses to increase skills and knowledge. 

Humour is a potent stress reliever
Appropriate humour demonstrates maturity and shows that you can see the ‘light at the end of a tunnel’ in a situation. You don't have to be a comedian all the time, but well-placed humour that is amusing and appropriate in a business situation can defuse a tense situation instantaneously and relieve anxiety all round. I find that people who laugh in response to a stressful situation tend to shift from one dimensional thinking to a place where multiple ideas can be considered.

Humour is a great way to win friends and influence people
Relationships are critical to success, and can help build relationships in the workplace. Joking with a colleague shows that we are all human – employees and managers can come together and find common ground.  Of course you can (and should be!) funny, but never mocking and you shouldn’t offend anyone.

Humour is a key ingredient in creative thinking
Humour helps people play with ideas, lower their internal critic, and then see things from different angles. Humour also establishes a productive environment for innovation because people are more inspired when they are relaxed.

Humour helps to build trust
“I believe humour reveals the true person lurking under the professional mask,” Mari says.  From our research, we have also found that studies suggest that people who share a healthy, positive sense of humour tend be more likable and are viewed as being more trustworthy.

Humour can increase productivity
I really believe that humour creates an optimistic atmosphere that encourages communication and the brainstorming of new ideas – in other words, better productivity.  If you work in a more cheerful atmosphere, you'll have more passion for what you do and your productivity will increase.

Without the ability to laugh at ourselves (and myself!) and situations, I won’t possess the ability to withstand a high-pressure environment and perform optimally. I read this somewhere and I can definitely identify with it: ‘If we didn't have humour at work, what would we have instead? Ulcers, we’d have ulcers...’

The Workspace and MiWay Business Insurance joined forces earlier this year to launch an entrepreneurial hub at the newly developed Village Road premises in Selby in Johannesburg’s central business district.  The Top 5 candidates for the amazing entrepreneur competition have also been announced and we’ll soon know which business has won the incredible R350 000 prize!

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