Do's and Don'ts of Workplace Jokes

It's important to have a good relationship with your coworkers and boss. You probably spend between 40 and 50 hours a week with these people. If everyone can get along and have a good time, it'll make for an easier work week.

Depending on the dynamic of the group, you might have lunch together, hang out on the weekends and perhaps engage in a little workplace humor.

Yes, it's a professional environment, and it's important to remain productive during the day. However, laughter in the workplace can lighten the mood during intense, stressful periods. With that said, there's nothing wrong with workplace jokes -- as long as the humor is appropriate. 

Here are a few do's and don'ts of workplace jokes:

  • Do know your target - You might be okay with being the butt of workplace jokes. However, before you target another coworker, make sure this person feels the same way. Sense of humor can vary by person. And what one group finds funny, another group may find offensive. Only joke about topics that others are comfortable with.
  • Don't touch politics or religion - People are sensitive about their political and religious views. Your comment may start off as a joke, and the other person may laugh and shoot a comeback. But if the joking continues, it may escalate and hit below the belt, thus sparking a debate, and then an argument.
  • Don't joke about a person's weight - It doesn't matter how comfortable you are with a coworker, a person's body weight is off limits, whether they're larger or smaller. There is nothing humorous about fat jokes -- even if your coworker appears okay with his or her size. The truth is, this person may put on a brave face, yet struggle secretly inside. 
  • Don't make sexual jokes - Regardless of your relationship with another worker, sexual jokes or innuendos are not appropriate in the workplace. And depending on your employer, making a sexual joke -- even an innocent one -- might constitute sexual harassment, which may be grounds for discipline.
  • Do consider how others may receive the joke - Sometimes, it's difficult to discern whether others will take offense to a particular joke. A certain comment may cause your friends to erupt in laughter, and your family may appreciate your humor. However, the people at work may view things differently. If you want to share a joke, but not sure if it'll be received well, yield on the side of caution and avoid the joke altogether.
  • Do apologise if you offend someone - If your workplace humor offends another coworker, don't make excuses for your behavior, or view the other person as too sensitive. At the end of the day, you're at work, not hanging out with your friends; and off-base humor may be offensive to others. If you offend another person, offer an apology.

Remember, the best jokes don't attack, or single out a person or group. Rather, they focus on everyday human quirkiness and bring people together. 

What other type of jokes or humor do you feel are inappropriate in the workplace?


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