Tom Antion asks PMP project manager, “Does the laughter stop when you enter the room?” It’s not always easy to answer such a question, but that’s why you get the big bucks! Remember when they gave you all those responsibilities and a 20-hour-a-week raise? (If you’re not a leader officially, there must be areas where you lead or you’re just taking up space — and that’s no laughing matter.)
So that’s the question: does the laughter stop when you come in? It’s a sign that as a leader, you suck…the air right out of the room!
If you have ever worked for someone you’d do almost anything for, you know how great that person made you feel. The difference between a manager you’d follow into a burning building and one you’d burn a building down around is that one of them created a positive relationship with you and the other one did not. Would you rather work for someone who has a good sense of humor and takes themselves lightly, or someone who is all bitter and twisted? We all have the same answer. I hope they want to work with someone like you.
Create an atmosphere of fun and caring. Include everyone in the good time. Give everyone a chance to participate. You can kid around with some people, and you can’t with others. Don’t just assume you have that relationship automatically — sometimes, you must be invited.
On the other hand, some relationships are more comfortable, and you can use off-beat humor. One of my comedy students, Deb, finished writing a seven-year forecast for her workteam and distributed it. Later, one co-worker wisecracked, “Nice report, Deb — who wrote it for you?” She replied, “Oh, you liked it — who read it to you?” You have friends at work who really are there or you, and you’re there for them. You can give each other a bit of a hard time because you’ve made enough deposits into each other’s “attaboy” banks.
Thomas Szasz wrote, “When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.” Both Deb and her teammate could laugh at themselves and with each other. Listen for laughter to start when you enter a room — and “leave ’em laughing” when you go. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is by far the best ending for one.”
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