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  • Writer's pictureEva Jenisch

Whether you are creating a new strategy, preparing for an organizational change or during a crisis,

even the most difficult problems are solved more easily with a high team spirit.

Who among us doesn't like to laugh? And who among us doesn't prefer to laugh together with others? In my experience, there are two things that bond a team- overcoming a challenge together and laughing together. A hearty laugh - or better yet, a work culture that encourages a certain lightness - improves interpersonal communication and strengthens social cohesion.

A few years ago, I organized the kick-off event for a global project team. On our first evening, we sat together in a pub starting to get to know each other better. While we were talking, a colleague accidentally grabbed my beer glass and drank from it. I just thought, "Oops, what am I going to do now? Do I order a fresh beer?" Instead, I asked him with a smile if he liked my beer. He looked puzzled, turned a little red and we suddenly had the attention of the whole table. Then he replied that he had enjoyed the beer, and we shared a toast with our beer glasses. The whole table broke out in relieved laughter. In the months that followed, the question of whether we had already shared our drinks became a running gag among our team. It was also funny that a global beverage company had different first names printed on their bottles at the same time. Of course, the other team members always gave us the bottles with each other's first names on them 😉

Is humor not an aloof topic, and what is it supposed to bring to our work? From my experience, humor allows a change of perspective, releases tension, and improves the working atmosphere. Humor is based on adding an unexpected, incongruous element of surprise to a story or shifting the context of a situation.

Humor is the ability to face the inadequacy of the world, the everyday difficulties, and mishaps with cheerful serenity. In a team, it is a good idea to confront the day-to-day hassles, the inadequacies of the work processes or the regular challenges in the project with humor.

But how does that work in today's work environment, where team members have had a wide variety of cultural, professional and life experiences? How do you find a shared sense of humor where everyone can laugh, and no one feels excluded or hurt? The great lightness of shared laughter, so to speak.

My personal recommendation is not to make jokes that refer to the habits or committed mistakes of a particular person. Ad hominem is taboo in the team! Also, no jokes about the boss.

So how do I find out what is making my colleagues smile and what dose of humor is appropriate? By listening and observing. And through genuine interest. When the other person finds my humor funny, then real sympathy develops. I have worked with many different teams during my career. The teams that developed a common sense of humor were the ones that I enjoyed the most working with and they consistently achieved the best results.

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