How to Be Funny—Not Offensive—at Work

Should you be funny at work?

Nail it, and humor can bond teams, boost your career and make even the most boring and stressful jobs bearable. Miss, and you can face awkward silence on Zoom, offended colleagues—or even worse, public ridicule on social media.

“Best-case scenario, they promise never to go on Twitter again,” management professor Brad Bitterly says of those who broadcast bad jokes out to the world. “Worst-case scenario, they also lose their job and are publicly shamed.”

OK, so that’s not great. Plus, if comedy is tragedy plus time, what are we supposed to do amid a deeply unfunny public health crisis and exceedingly serious national conversation around politics and race? At a moment when so many of us could use a laugh, we’re all terrified of stumbling.

Mercifully, it’s not that hard to get right, those who study humor told me.


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