Go for the Joke!

Posted on December 4, 2018


Head Band Doug

Go for the Joke! Morning Buzz with Douglas Shontz

In the local government profession, we deal with important issues. These issues sometimes make local and national headlines and require our upmost serious attention. They can impact the quality of life and well-being of residents.

I work in State College, PA, with the community and university (Penn State University) being in and out of the national spotlight over various issues. That being said, I’m writing this article to say, it’s alright to take a moment and make a joke, laugh, and relieve the tensions of the job. I know this isn’t a new work culture concept, however, I think it’s important to emphasize this point.

Patrick Malone, Ph.D.,Director of the Key Executive Leadership Program, American University, states:

“It would be a tragedy for anyone to be seduced by the argument that the use of humor or the presence of laughter in the workplace is somehow unprofessional…as long as the humor is tasteful and not personal, innocent and not hurtful, professionalism, and humor will always make for a wonderful pairing and a better place to work.”

When working as a Research and Content Development Associate for ICMA, I had the opportunity to produce six episodes of ICMA’s podcast, Local Gov Life. One of the most eye-opening was the episode, Go Ahead—Laugh! I had the opportunity of interviewing James Bennet, City Manager of Biddeford, Maine.

During this interview, I discovered this manager had a “side-hustle” as a clown. How great is that?! A City Manager who can step away from the stress of the job to make others laugh. He has a great tool to relieve the stress of any situation. He can just go out to the trunk of his car grab his size 23 shoes and have the whole room laughing.

Overall, my goal is to make work, not work. We have the opportunity to help people daily, but sometimes it takes a lot of patience.

By laughing and joking, we have the opportunity to make work enjoyable for yourself and others around you. Next time you think of something funny (and appropriate), please don’t hesitate and go for the joke.

For visual reference of this strategy, watch The Office, Season 6, Episode 10—Murder.

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