I know some of you are thinking “What is he talking about? Fun at work?” But it’s that simple and that’s exactly what I mean. If you can’t have fun at work, then why are you there? Fun and good work do go together. A joke can reduce tension during stressful times at work. The saying “Laughter is the best medicine” exists because it’s true.
This doesn’t mean you will joke around with co-workers every day. Of course, even if you do, it’s unlikely a minute or two will derail you from the tasks at hand. Fun doesn’t need to take up a lot of time.
I joke around with colleagues regularly. It sure makes my days more fun. On the days when I am feeling overwhelmed by what I need to accomplish the humor may include sarcasm or be darker, but it still is part of my day. Humor relieves tension and stress, even if momentarily.
You will encounter others in the office, or online or over the phone if you work remotely. It’s good to remember that humor may not come across how you intend when it’s in electronic communications or during phone calls. It’s much easier for people to understand you are joking in person where they also can see your body language.
No matter how or where you work you should allow yourself to take breaks, even if it is only a few minutes. It will help reinvigorate you to go back and work more. Plus, when you see others having one of those days, maybe you can lighten the moment for them and bring a smile to their face.
You may know the line from Dr. Seuss’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish: “These things are fun, and fun is good.” Fun is good. True statement. Put some fun in your day and see how it brightens moments for you and those around you.
Just because the thought comes into your head does not mean it should come out of your mouth. In many situations, it matters what you say next. This is why it’s so important to think before speaking. It doesn’t mean uncomfortable long silences, but it means you need to plan for important conversations, negotiations, or presentations. It also means you need be able to think on your feet.
This can be difficult in emotionally charged situations. But those situations require the most thought and patience.
This was brought home to me a few years ago when an opposing attorney answered a judge’s question too fast and before the judge had finished his question. In doing so, the attorney not only failed to answer the question the judge actually asked, he blurted out information that the judge later used against his other arguments. This really happened.
After speaking too fast and, apparently, without fully thinking through what he was saying, grasping for an answer, it became obvious the attorney was arguing two sides of the coin. It probably will not shock you this was obvious to the judge. It caused the issue on which the attorney had a weak case to look like a failure and the issue on which he had a slightly better argument to lose its shine. The attorney’s failure to think before speaking, let alone not letting the judge finish his question, lost his client any chance of succeeding on either of his positions.
Don’t let this be you. Always plan for important conversations, negotiations, or presentations. If you are not sure of an answer to a question, it is better to admit that. If you do answer, think before speaking. If you do these things, there is a better chance your conversations will go well and you will avoid putting your foot in your mouth.
And, it should go without saying, let people finish their thought or question before responding. If your mouth is open your ears are shut.
In everything you do you can do better, you can be better. Always. If you disagree you are only fooling yourself and being intellectually dishonest. Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.
If you put your money in a can and bury it in your backyard, it has no chance to grow. If you invest your money, it has the chance to grow. The corollary is if you don’t take the time to improve yourself, to learn, you will become stagnant and, in this fast-paced world, probably be passed by others. If you work to improve you will grow and your opportunities will expand.
I am speaking about improving in relation your given business or profession, but it also applies to your personal life. It may help you to take a class related to what you do for a living, taking guitar lessons, or for me, keeping up with the state of the law and current legal opinions.
I know you are busy. I know you don’t think you have time. But the truth is you don’t have time not to invest in yourself. If nothing changes, well, you get the idea.
Think about what you can do to invest in yourself. It will make you a better professional or person, and it will help improve the world around you, your world.