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Kira Vermond: Humour on the job

Not only does a good laugh reduce stress, but some experts say it enhances leadership skills and communication. And even gives creativity and productivity a boost.

Humour might even help you keep a job. Just recently a Canadian survey from Accountemps revealed that 73 percent of chief financial officers said that an employee's sense of humour is important for fitting into the company's corporate culture. And these are bean-counters we're talking about.

Other surveys tell us that nearly all of us prefer to work with someone who makes us laugh. A lot of us even think funny people do a better job than more serious coworkers.

Some companies are taking humour to heart. Take WestJet, the Canadian airline. Pilots have been known to crack jokes over the intercom before taking to the skies. Hey, it's a great way to alleviate fears for those white-knuckled fliers.

Now, no one is saying that you've got to become a stand-up comedian to get ahead at work. That's because humour can be boiled down to two things: Having a positive attitude and not taking yourself so seriously.

At the same time, people who study humour tell us that some forms of it are more appropriate for the workplace than others.

For instance, bonding humour is all about making other people feel at ease. You tell jokes, lighten the mood and enjoy a bit of banter. Coworkers feel closer when they share inside jokes.

Then there's self-enhancing humour. You see the world and its tribulations as funny so you don't sweat the small stuff. Did you send a "reply all" email by mistake? You're the first one to send a second email joking about your error. People like this, are considered non-threatening and generally liked.

And don't forget self-deprecating humour. Make yourself the butt of your own jokes, and you can cut tension in no time. But just don't do it too often or people start to notice all your faults.

But the big no-no? Stay away from humour that puts other people down. Sure, you might find it funny that your boss is wearing plaid pants. But joking about his quirky fashion sense could put you on the path to a pink slip.

And nobody would find humour in that.

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