How much fun do you have at work? Mike Cundall thinks there is plenty of room for humor in the workplace. Cundall is an associate professor of philosophy at North Carolina A&T State University. In his new book, The Humor Hack, Cundall offers advice on how to increase engagement not only at your job but in day-to-day life. WFDD's Neal Charnoff spoke with Cundall about what he's learned and the advice he offers.
On bringing humor into the workspace
"One of the things that we're taught is that when we're at work, we're doing serious things, and serious things can't be influenced, or more importantly, interrupted by laughter. So you've got to relax that kind of environment that you've got there in your workplace. So put memes around, share memes as you can. If you wear a tie, wear a fun tie. If you wear a scarf, wear a fun scarf. Find places where you can add little interruptions to the expected. And then people are going to start looking for them."
On being sensitive to evolving boundaries
"I have this 'humor as a house' analogy. And I say, think of using humor as meeting someone and being invited into their home. So if I've just met you, I'm at the doorstep, and the things that I know about you, the things that I know that we share — because that's where humor is going to be derived from the things that we share — well, that's what you can joke about. Joke about the weather."
On adapting to the digital workspace
"There's this rule out there from the early days of the Internet, called Poe's Law, that if you're going to use humor, you absolutely have to be very, very clear that you're using humor. And of course, one of the ways that we do that is through emojis. And they've actually done some interesting studies that if you put an emoji before the text that you take to be funny, people are going to be confused, like, 'What's going on? I don't understand what's happening here.' But if you put the emojis after your text, it helps us understand that 'Oh, what just came was funny.'"