By Rhonda Abrams
Gannett News Service
Life is too short not to have fun, and that includes the time you spend at work.
When I started my own business, I was determined to create a lighthearted workplace. I wanted to enjoy going to work, and have my employees enjoy work, even when we had too many bills and not enough customers.
Entrepreneur's motto: I started out with nothing and still have most of it left.
So, let's take a moment to get serious about fun.
Fun is a powerful business tool. Using humor wisely can relieve stress, increase communication, enhance motivation, and just make dealing with the ups and downs of daily business life a whole lot easier.
Style sets the tone
Humor is more than jokes; it's an attitude that you bring to situations - whether it's mundane daily tasks or disappointing setbacks. Of course, jokes reflect your sense of humor.
I'm a continual - and some would say terrible - punster. I make puns at the office all day. For example:
At the coffee shop, I saw a sign over a tip jar: "If you fear change, leave it here."
Sea captains don't like crew cuts.
Do cemetery workers like the graveyard shift?
You don't have to take a week off to send your employees to clown college. You might just have them let off a little steam by spending some time joking around, or working on fun projects. In our company, we've got a "stealth project." It's a Web site for an imaginary new invention - downloadable pizza.
Watch those edges
Like everything else in business, you have to use good judgment when having fun. Fun:
Has to be in good taste. Racist, sexist, overly sexual, or scatological humor isn't appropriate for the workplace - and may be illegal.
Cannot be abusive to any individual or group. OK, so I (as a blonde) can handle some blonde jokes, and generally you can get away with lawyer and IRS jokes.
Question: Why was the blonde delighted when she finished the jigsaw puzzle in two years?
Answer: The box said, "3-5 years."
Oh, and of course, you can always pick on the big guys ...
I picked up a Magic 8-Ball the other day and it said "Outlook not so good."
I thought, "Sure, but Microsoft still ships it."
There aren't a lot of small-business jokes, but I've found a few:
Hear about the business book they're going to write? Pyramid Schemes for Dummies.
"I decided to open my own business after something my last boss said."
"What did he say?"
A fisherman wrote to an engine manufacturer:
"Please send me one of your boat engines, and if it's any good, I'll send you a check."
In a short time he received the following reply from the engine-maker: "Please send the check. If it's any good, we'll send you the engine."
Rhonda Abrams is the author of "The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies" and the president of The Planning Shop. To receive her free business tip newsletter, register at www.PlanningShop.com.
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