Humor on the job is a welcome addition to most company cultures. Keeping things light can make stressful seasons seem manageable, bring a team together, and generally help you get through the day. Even though it’s welcome, there are certain considerations to make sure you don’t go too far. Here are five tips to consider about keeping your work humor under control.

1. Don’t try to be the funny person

You’ve seen this person parodied in movies and shows. He or she is always trying to make jokes and usually they fall flat because they think they’re funnier than they are. Instead of bringing levity into the office, they make everyone put on their headphones to avoid interaction. Make jokes when they come naturally, but don’t take on the responsibility of always trying to be funny.

2. Read the room

Sometimes, a joke isn’t necessary, even if it’s a really good one. Consider what’s going on and who you’re with before saying anything. If you don’t fully understand what’s going on, you can end up cracking a joke that makes everything worse and upsets people.

It’s also wise to see how people react in any situation after you try to be funny. If you’re consistently getting negative feedback, whether verbal or nonverbal, it may be time to rethink your humor.

3. Don’t make people uncomfortable

There are comments that the world is too politically correct, but it’s usually a good example to follow in the office. Unless you know exactly how everyone feels about a certain topic, your political joke could leave people offended. Even worse, depending on what you say, you could get reported to HR.

4. Stay relevant

Knowing what’s going on in the world and pop culture is a great way to not only make jokes but understand jokes. It also keeps you from making a joke about a public figure that is now in bad taste. This is especially useful in management roles because it can connect you to your team.

5. Be careful what you email and message

A good rule of thumb is never put something in writing that could get you in trouble. Saying a playful joke about your company to your co-workers is one thing but sending a mass email to everyone could get you in trouble. Even off-color jokes can come back to haunt you.

Since these digital communications processes are meant to streamline your work, you should let them be work only and leave humor for in-person exchanges.

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