Humor Is Serious Business
Research collected by Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Jennifer Aaker and lecturer Naomi Bagdonas suggests that men and women fall off a "humor cliff" — both in laugh frequency and self-perceptions of funniness — around the time they enter the labor force. This is a trend that the two researchers would like to see reversed, because humor is an effective and under-leveraged tool for influence and communication, often bringing about innovative solutions and fostering teams that are more resilient to stress. Humor can work as a bridge in the boardroom and elsewhere because laughter sparks the release of oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates social bonding. It also increases trust and quickens self-disclosure.

Decision-makers are encouraged to "get good at self-deprecating" wit. Self-deprecation not only humanizes leaders, it also creates connections with others. If you are in a position of higher status, humorist Joel Stein recommends that it's best to avoid jokes that are aggressive (roasts, mocking, teasing, and so forth). Instead, use humor to highlight shared viewpoints or common foes and never make a colleague the butt of your joke. Finally, humor increases power through "memorability." Venture capitalist David Hornik notes that most board meetings "run the spectrum from tedium to sadness. So, if someone is willing to take the risk to create some levity, there is incredible value in that. People remember it."
Stanford Business (07/11/17) Stein, Joel
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