There is no doubt that a professional project manager should possess knowledge of the organizational and technical aspects of his work. However, this occupation also includes the key skills of working with people. The success of any project depends on the well-coordinated actions of the entire team, and it is the responsibility of the leader to make it work. One of the effective ways to increase performance would be incorporating humor in the workplace.
In this project, 15 workers of the real estate agency were compelled to change the way they talk to clients by using a more humorous approach. One of the essential tasks of any real estate agent is to make a profitable deal. From this mission, an obvious problem appears, which includes obstacles in gaining the trust of customers. In some cases, it can be extremely difficult to build up a positive relationship between a seller and a consumer, which disrupts the sales rate. In addition, several employees reported feeling stressed during work hours due to an immense amount of tasks and an overall heavy atmosphere. For this reason, incorporating humor seems like a sufficient way to shift this situation for the better. It is expected that the result of this project will include improved communication between workers and customers, as well as increased sales.
Before implementing any changes, the topic of humor and its acceptability in the workplace should be investigated from a scholars’ perspective. Unfortunately, the research on this subject is limited; however, some studies report that “positive humor has been functional in attracting the audience, lessening unnecessary squabbles, reducing stress, healing rifts and thus generating productivity” (Tripathy, 2018, p. 76). Using humor during the team-building phase is an unobtrusive way to test the strength of a relationship. A positive response to a joke encourages other team members to joke as well, which can speed up the socialization process. Humor helps to reach an understanding between employees and creates a sense of equality. A joke can set off a chain of witty remarks about a situation, giving the participants a sense of unity.
Furthermore, humor helps to reduce anxiety and fear in critical situations. Spontaneous humor can also tell a manager that an ambiguous situation has arisen, while unexpected funny answers will indicate gaps in understanding. Humor at the right time and in the right place can improve the relationship in the workplace, as long as it is not demeaning or obscene. Inappropriate jokes can disrupt the process of communication and damage the overall atmosphere because people will feel like they are being criticized and isolated. Humor can be implemented gradually, and eventually, it will become part of the work or even the culture of the organization. A business environment that allows for a little fun or enjoyment can attract highly skilled people, help a team become efficient faster, and produce outstanding results.
Another important factor that makes incorporating humor in the workplace can also positively influence sales. Making a good first impression on the customer is essential for those who want to sell a product or a service. In this case, real estate agency workers were encouraged to use jokes in conversation with potential buyers. To educate the employees on this matter, a short training session was provided. The instructor gave a lecture about the influence of humor on advertising. Moreover, additional material about inappropriate types of jokes was also provided, as well as advice on how to use comedy to make beneficial deals with customers.
For instance, the instructor advised starting the presentation of real estate with a soft laugh to break the ice and define the perspectives. A worker can do this by telling a funny short story that will win over the customer. It will lighten up the mood, as well as will increase the attractiveness of the company. This factor can play an essential role in advertising because people tend to give in to a request when they like someone. Therefore, workers were advised to make clients smile before asking them to buy. In addition, humor slightly disrupts critical thinking and distracts people from convincing arguments. Therefore, workers were advised to refrain from using humor while presenting key value propositions that potential customers should carefully listen to and think about. Another significant factor that should be taken into account is that all jokes should be said respectfully. Therefore, workers were advised to avoid racist, sexist, political, religious topics, and avoid sarcasm at all costs. The reason for this is that in such a case, the salesperson can offend the customer and sabotage the chances of reaching a successful agreement.
After this educational session, real estate agents were given a week to use this knowledge while making deals with clients. They were encouraged to use jokes in conversations and reflect on the results. Customers were also asked to leave feedback about the quality of service provided by the worker. At the end of the week, the employees delivered their opinion on this initiative. Many expressed their satisfaction with the educational session and stated that they were surprised to discover the power that humor can provide while dealing with sales. Some of the agents reported that they have learned to use new positive and creative interactions, which offered countless possibilities to gain clients’ trust. Moreover, the overall performance of the agency considerably improved as several workers managed to make successful deals.
It is also worth noting that employees reported feeling less stressed by the end of the week, and they feel as if using jokes frequently helped them to boost morale. The reason for this is that smiling has a positive effect on the brain. It calms people down, makes them feel energized and optimistic. As a result, the project can be considered effective since it provided positive outcomes. As was expected, the performance of the agency increased with more profitable sales while the work-related stress was reduced.
In conclusion, it appears that in addition to financial rewards, employees also want to enjoy their work. Since sometimes people spend more time with colleagues than with family and friends, it is important to share a good mood at work. At the same time, a business environment that allows for enjoyment attracts highly skilled people and helps teams perform better. When it comes to dealing with clients, humor helps to relax and get rid of excessive stress, which often disrupts proper communication. There is no doubt that this project proved that humor improves efficiency and productivity in the workplace. However, there is an apparent need for further research to provide a better result. For instance, it would be helpful to study the influence of using humor in sales in the long-term, instead of taking one week.
Tripathy, M. (2018). Interpersonal act at workplace through discreet use of humor. Israeli Journal for Humor Research, 7(2), 64-78.