Having a good sense of humor is not always about being funny, laughing out the loudest, or telling the funniest joke; you have to master the art of knowing when and where certain things are more or less appropriate to really “own it”. What makes a person a good joke-teller is their ability to evaluate the situation, carefully choose their audience and know when to tone things down. When it comes to using humor effectively, there’s no other place where you should be extra careful with it like the office.

The human beings that we are, we tend to deprive ourselves of using humor freely at the workplace. Alert of the fact that what may be funny to some can be perceived as offensive by others, we don’t feel quite as comfortable sharing our humorous ways with colleagues as we would naturally do with our close friends and family. But still, there’s always room for some tasteful humor and ways to add more fun into the working life. This doesn’t mean you have to immediately start sharing your wildest, most hilarious stories with your boss, but telling a couple of short jokes every now and then will certainly contribute to creating a more relaxed, comfortable working environment.

The most successful companies have learned that encouraging the use of humor at work has a number of benefits for the overall atmosphere at the office, as it caters to every employee individually. Creating a feeling of social belonging, closeness with your colleagues, and increased productivity are just some of the reasons humor aids in developing corporate success, and here are the rest of them.

Humor Increases Individual Success. According to recent research conducted by professors M. Schweitzer, B. Bitterly and A. Wood Brooks, the appropriate use of humor in the workplace helps increase a person’s status. The successful use of humor among colleagues sends out the message of confidence and competence, and even helps develop an affinity towards someone being regarded as a team leader. The professors, however, warn that humor has a risky side too. There have been many cases where an attempt at being funny backfired because it was inappropriately used or simply because it had been overdone. Even so, humor still remains an effective tool in developing confidence and increasing personal status as long as it’s being carefully used.

Humor Builds Trust. A funny joke is the best way to break the ice, especially when you’re new at the office. A positive personality and a healthy sense of humor help create a great first impression and a likeable image of yourself. Using humor appropriately helps colleagues see beneath your professional skills; they can experience a glimpse of the real you. Approachability and trustworthiness are very important traits to develop as they help everyone around you feel more comfortable, honest and open. It may sound innocent, but this is actually an important pillar in corporate success – building healthy relationships between employees means building a successful company.

Humor Increases Productivity. When people like someone, they want to spend time with that person, both personally and professionally. Speaking in the language of business, your colleagues will enjoy working with you if you are a naturally humorous person who seems to take the positive side to things. This is very advantageous to the company itself, given that humor helps create an enthusiastic working atmosphere flowing with motivation and productivity. People feel more eager to work and satisfied when the organizational culture is positive. Numerous studies have shown that humor in the workplace enhances work performance, improves employee morale and increases loyalty towards the company.

Humor Drives Creativity. Closely related to productivity, humor also has an effect on creative thinking. Being part of a relaxed working environment promotes openness to new ideas and risk taking, which doesn’t always necessarily have to be a bad thing. When they feel they’re having fun, people have a less judgmental mindset towards others’ ideas. This absence of criticism makes them more relaxed to implement these new concepts and experiment with them. Once creativity gets flowing, good things are about to happen for business.

Humor Improves Communication. Good communication on all company levels is crucial to success. When employees don’t communicate effectively between each other, things won’t get properly done or at all. Humor can greatly help improve communication by getting people to listen in the first place. When backed-up by a funny story or joke, anything you say will garner your listeners’ attention and drive them into creating a favorable attitude towards what’s being discussed. It’s quite the psychological thing, really: using humor can act persuasively rather than being seen as unserious because it gets people distracted from creating a negative feedback about the message you’re trying to communicate.

Humor Enhances Leadership. Someone once said that leadership is like the old galley ships; hundreds are rowing, but only one knows where they are going. When the leader of a team, business or organization knows how to properly get their subordinates into achieving the common goals, everyone will benefit. Humor has been shown to have a positive impact on leadership as it enhances hierarchical relationships. No one likes working for a sourpuss, so when people see that the “man in charge” actually knows how to be funny, it gets them to conclude that everyone is by nature basically the same. Humor is a great response to tense situations where employees and managers come together as one.

Humor Reduces Stress. Not so surprisingly, humor also has medical benefits to offer, stress reduction being the most important one. The business world is frightening indeed, and without a little joke here and there you’ll just end up with a bunch of frustrated employees who don’t feel motivated to get their part of the job done. Any good leader knows the practice of using humor in a stressful situation because it helps develop a sense of owning control and dominance over the whole event. Joking about it makes it feel less intimidating. Reducing stress and anxiety by the use of jokes and positive thinking is the ground of affiliative humor. Knowing that people are in a situation together, and laughing about it together is a very positive response towards stress.

Of course, not everything is always funny to everyone, but a little daily dose of humor at the office will be highly beneficial to everyone. It’s not just about telling work-appropriate jokes, but rather keeping a positive attitude towards arising situations. People love working in a laid-back, fun atmosphere because it makes them come together, feeling they belong and that they are just like everyone else. And when they love where they work, they do their best to show it.