A Good Sense Of Humor is Great For Your Sense Of Life and Business

sense of humor in business

How do you express your sense of humor without going overboard, off the edge, or over the top? It’s sometimes really hard to do, but it can work wonders for building likeability and memorability at networking events, conferences and meetings.

We have all been around people at events who tell inappropriate jokes, or say inappropriate things to people they don’t really know thinking they are funny, connecting or trying to establish commonality.

Using humor is a great way to be remembered and stand out, but not for the wrong reasons. If we have one chance to make a first impression, then making sure your humor is appropriate for the event and the people you are with is important.

Do You Have a Good Sense of Humor in Business?

I remember a particular new client of mine during my broadcast radio career, who I liked very much who would tell me ethnic jokes that he thought connected us. They used to make me very uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure how to tell him until one day I just said, ‘I really like you and appreciate our business relationship,’ but I would prefer not hearing ethnic jokes anymore.’ He simply said no problem and apologized if it offended me.

There are interactions in person and online where a fun and humorous roll and flow just happens. No forcing it, no awkwardness. It’s natural between some people and not others and it’s in bounds. When you think about the people you meet that you have that kind of chemistry or interaction with you remember them and smile.

So what’s funny in general, that’s not controversial?

When it comes to jokes and a good sense of humor in business, the no religion, no politics, no sexuality is still a best practice.

Think about your real life and personal experiences that happen to all of us everyday. They are the human things that bond any of us, no matter what background we come from. We relate to each other because of them and laughing about them together is fun.

Have Any of These Things Happened to You?

  • Dropping your phone in the toilet.
  • Getting locked out of your car.
  • Funny, crazy things kids do and say.
  • Coincidences that are just funny.
  • The bandanna and sunglasses you put on your dog.
  • Spilling ketchup on your shirt during a business lunch.
  • Standing on the street in a business suit and having birds pick you as a target.
  • Having food on the side of your mouth or in your teeth.
  • Getting locked out of your house in your pajamas.

These, by the way, are all things that actually happened to me at one time or another. I assure you when I use these real life human experiences as conversation starters, it usually gets people involved – and laughing about them together is fun.

What are some of the appropriate, humorous, real life experiences that you could use as conversation starters at your next networking event?

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Do you believe Deborah admitted she was the target of birds during work in a business suit?”

Yep, and I had to go home and change. True story.


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane has been recognized as a Top 100 Small Business Champion and Top 50 SMB Influencer (Dunn and Bradstreet 2015). She is a career transition author, personal branding and social media specialist. Deborah's book "Career Transition: Make the Shift" is available through all major book sellers.

12 Reactions
  1. I agree that it can increase likeability. Unfortunately, though I love to laugh, my sense of humor when it comes to thinking of jokes is not that rich. But it is something I can definitely work on.

    • No worries on telling jokes, but being personable, relateable and fun goes a long way.

  2. I’m a pretty playful and quirky person. Surreal too, so my humour (albeit not offensive) can sometimes get lost on some people. But I’d say 9 times out of 10 apples, it’s understood. I hope.

    I think a good sense of humour’s important, at least for me, both in the giving and receiving. That’s why I have a thing for businesses like Virgin and Nando’s because they tend to incorporate humour into their marketing.

  3. Humor is one of the best approaches I have. In every aspect of life. Currently a part time employee of an organization that seems to be way too serious about itself. I cant help but think their audience would grow if they shifted that attitude just a bit. Hardest task I have ever undertaking. Humor, though universal in its appeal, is nearly impossible to create in a committee session. But.. I will keep trying. Durn it.. I have no choice…

    • The approach that you take to dealing with difficult situations with a good sense of humor is invaluable keep seeing those opportunities, and use them. Be a change maker in that situation.

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