Q. Should humor be used in the workplace?

A. Used judiciously humor can positively impact almost any situation and environment, including the workplace. Overall a healthy sense of humor is related to being able to laugh at oneself and one's life. Laughing at oneself can be a way of accepting and respecting oneself. A lack of a sense of humor tends to be related to lower self esteem.

A well-developed sense of humor can be used to trigger laughter. Under acute stress, the two hemispheres of the brain become disconnected. Laughter has been found to improve creativity and problem-solving, and activates the limbic system in the brain, connecting the right and left sides. It helps you do more whole brain work. Laughter can enhance brain abilities that are necessary for doing good work.

Studies have shown that employees who laugh together "stay together." They tend to work better as a team, are more creative, and produce more work.

A study of outstanding leaders revealed that they got the interviewer to laugh with them twice as often as individuals judged to be average or less effective leaders. The outstanding leaders used humorous comments three times more frequently (e.g., once every 4 minutes). They used humor to reduce stress and positively impact their interactions.

Women who can interact easily with the more aggressive humor of men in business are a step ahead of women who negatively interpret these interactions.