The Joke That Makes or Breaks You at Work

By January 24, 2017press

Using humor at the office can boost your status, but only the right kind of humor
Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 12.47.06 PMColleagues who make others laugh are seen as more self-confident, competent and higher in status, according to a series of experiments by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Harvard Business School. This conclusion, compelling for the many people who have spent on clothes, cars, credentials or coaching to burnish their image, has gotten some understandable attention recently.

Laughs are a risky path to prestige, however: Tell just one inappropriate joke and your status among peers hits the skids.

Humor is often seen as a sign of intelligence, and delivering a joke well requires sensitivity to others’ moods and tastes. John Thorne often uses self-deprecating humor to elevate his employees’ status among clients. As president of Automotive Events, a Cleveland-based producer of car-related promotions, he’s often the one who wins new clients.