Secrets of Effective Office Humor.


Making colleagues laugh takes timing, self-confidence—and the ability to rebound from a blooper.

Margot Carmichael Lester loves making good-natured jokes at work. As owner of The Word Factory, a Carrboro, N.C., content-creation company, she looks for employees with a sense of humor. “I only want to work with people who can take a joke.”

Sometimes, though, her jokes fall flat. Last month, at a meeting with insurance-industry clients, she poked fun—gently—at how people often view their insurers: “I mean, who really expects to hear, ‘I’m calling from your insurance company and I’m here to help?’ ” The joke died amid a few titters, she says. While she recovered and completed the client project successfully, the memory lingers. “If you are funny and putting yourself out there, making yourself vulnerable, and people don’t respond? That hurts.”

Employers like to hire people with a sense of humor, research shows. And mixing laughter and fun into a company culture can attract skilled workers, according to a study last year in the journal Human Relations. A 2011 study at Pennsylvania State University found that a good laugh activates the same regions of the brain that light up over a fat bonus check.

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But the office can be a comedic minefield. Making colleagues laugh takes timing, self-confidence—and the ability to rebound from a blooper.

“People will like you better if they find you funny. They will also think you are smarter,” says Scott Adams, creator of the popular syndicated cartoon “Dilbert.” But “if you’ve never been funny before, trying to start in the workplace—the most important place you’ll ever be in your life”—is a terrible idea, says Mr. Adams, author of a new book, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.”

Fred Kilbourne says his knack for funny banter has helped his career as an actuary, making him a sought-after speaker and participant in professional groups. “Actuarial work can be pretty dull and deadly, and I’m always looking for a way to make it a little lighter,” says Mr. Kilbourne, of San Diego. “People say, ‘I can’t tell when you’re kidding.’ My usual answer is, ‘If my lips are moving, I’m kidding.’ “

Not that he hasn’t had a few missteps. He once cracked a joke in the middle of a serious discussion by a committee on auto-insurance risk, prompting a fellow participant to say, ” ‘You know, we’re trying to get something serious done here, and this is not helpful,’ ” recalls Mr. Kilbourne. “He was right,” he says. “I was a serious contributor for the rest of the meeting.”

Office jokesters must be ready with a funny comeback if they drop a clunker, making sure to deliver it in a warm, non-sarcastic tone, says Michael Kerr, a Calgary, Alberta, speaker, author and consultant on humor at work. Turn the joke on yourself. For example: “It takes a special human being to do what I just did,” or, “This is great. I was feeling a little under-stressed today,” Mr. Kerr says.

It is also important to read the nuances of co-workers’ moods and attitudes and pick the right context for jokes, says Andrew Tarvin, a New York City humor coach. Mr. Adams says he watches listeners’ body language. If they tense up, or they avert their gaze or narrow their eyes, it isn’t a good time to crack wise.

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Most people know the taboos: Divisive racist, ethnic or sexist jokes, are out. Beyond those boundaries, a jokester should consider the ramifications if a joke showed up on Twitter or Facebook.

One way to keep humor positive is to apply the “yes–and” technique used in improvisational comedy, says Zach Ward, managing director of ImprovBoston, a Cambridge, Mass., theater and humor-training school. (Many students come there, he says, to build interpersonal skills they can use in the workplace.) A co-worker who hears a joke might “actively add to what you have you have said,” he says. If the sound system crashes during a presentation, for example, the speaker might say, “Was it something I said?” while other employees might play off and extend the witticism with, “It must have been your electrifying humor,” or “Whose turn was it to pay the electrical bill?”

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The best office humor brings people together, often through shared pranks or inside jokes, Mr. Tarvin says. For nearly three years, employees at Silver Lining Ltd. held monthly “corporate jargon days” when they tried to use as much vague, bureaucratic language as possible, says Carissa Reiniger, founder and chief executive of the New York City-based small-business management consulting firm.

A study published earlier this year in the Leadership & Organization Development Journal says executives and managers who use self-deprecating humor appear more approachable and human to subordinates.

Paul Spiegelman, co-founder of BerylHealth, a Bedford, Texas, medical call-center company, stars in annual office videos. One year, he was shown applying for jobs as a short-order cook and a theater projectionist because he didn’t “feel valued any more at the company.” Another year, in a parody of “Dancing with the Stars,” he donned in-line skates and a matador costume and danced with his chief operating officer.

Humor “breaks down silos and flattens the organization,” fostering employee loyalty and productivity, says Mr. Spiegelman, who recently sold the company to SteriCycle Inc., where he is chief culture officer.

Any employee, however, can use “self-enhancing” humor to make light of failures, polish her image or rise above stress, Dr. Cruthirds says. One study cited a team of co-workers who kidded each other almost constantly. In a meeting where one employee delivered a document with a mistake in it, a laughing co-worker accused him of failing his word-processing training. The perp’s comeback drew another laugh: “I find it really hard to be perfect at everything.”

Beth Slazak’s part-time job in a physician’s office requires taking calls about medical records from people who are often tense and rushed. To lighten things up, Ms. Slazak, of Cowlesville, N.Y., answers the phone with fictitious job titles. Her first one, “This is Beth, Office Ray of Sunshine,” made a co-worker sitting nearby spit out her coffee, Ms. Slazak says. Others include Dragon Slayer, Narnia Tour Guide, Zombie Defender and Hope for All Mankind.

Her boss and co-workers in the small office approve, she says, since they’re not the only ones who laugh: Callers almost always do, too. “If you can get somebody who sounds uptight to giggle, it’s totally a win,” says Ms. Slazak.

Source: WSJ.

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The Dangers of Using Plastic Water Bottles..


Bottled water in your car is very dangerous. People should not drink bottled water that has been left in a car. The heat reacts with the chemicals in the plastic of the bottle which releases dioxin into the water. Dioxin is a toxin increasingly found in breast cancer tissue. So please be careful and do not drink bottled water that has been left in a car.

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Use a stainless steel canteen or a glass bottle instead of plastic.

This information is also being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center … No plastic containers in microwaves. No plastic water bottles in freezers. No plastic wrap in microwaves.

Dioxin chemical causes cancer, especially breast cancer. Dioxins are highly poisonous to cells in our bodies. Don’t freeze plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic. Recently the Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain
this health hazard.

We should not be heating food in the microwave using plastic containers…..
This especially applies to foods that contain fat. The combination of fat, high heat and plastic releases dioxin into the food.

Instead use glass, such as Pyrex or ceramiccontainers for heating food… You get the same result, but without the dioxin.. So, such things as TV dinners, instant soups, etc., should be removed from
their containers and heated in something else.

Paper isn’t bad but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s safer to
use tempered glass, such as Pyrex, etc.

A while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the styrene foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons….

Plastic wrap, such as Cling film, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.

Source: Raw For Beauty

Study finds rise in gay characters on network TV.


The number of gay and bisexual characters on scripted broadcast network TV is at its highest-ever level in the season ahead, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The total on cable television is also going up.

The 17th-annual “Where We Are on TV” report released Friday by GLAAD found that 4.4 percent of actors appearing regularly on prime-time network drama and comedy series during the 2012-13 season will portray lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters. This is up from 2.9 percent in 2011, which saw a dip in what had been a growing annual trend.

The study reviewed 97 scripted TV programs scheduled to air in the upcoming season on the broadcast networks, counting a total of 701 series regular characters. The study found that 31 of them are LGBT characters.

ABC has the highest amount with 10 out of 194, or 5.2 percent, of their regular characters identified as LGBT.

After leading last year, Fox ranks second with six LGBT characters out of 118 total series regulars, or 5.1 percent.

CBS was saluted as the most-improved network, with four out of 142 LGBT series regulars, or 2.8 percent, up from 0.7 percent last year. Among CBS’s new fall series is “Partners,” a comedy about two childhood friends and business partners, one of whom is gay and in a relationship. The network’s lineup represents “an authentic and conscious effort by CBS to improve its diversity,” the study said.

Regular gay and lesbian characters on what the study termed “mainstream” cable television has also risen this season to 35, up from 29 last season.

Among those networks, Showtime leads with 12 LGBT characters. The study also cited HBO, FX, Adult Swim, ABC Family, MTV, Syfy and TeenNick.

The HBO drama “True Blood” remains cable’s most inclusive series, featuring six LGBT characters.

On broadcast TV, male LGBT characters continue to outweigh female characters, 55.5 percent to 44.5 percent, the study found.

Compared to last year, African-American representation has grown from 9.9 percent to 12 percent, while Hispanic representation has decreased from 5.6 percent to 4.1 percent.

“It is vital for networks to weave complex and diverse story lines of LGBT people in the different programs they air,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “More and more Americans have come to accept their LGBT family members, friends, co-workers and peers, and as audiences tune into their favorite programs, they expect to see the same diversity of people they encounter in their daily lives.”

Source: ABC news.