Review: Business Book Club: Humour Seriously - Why Humour is a Superpower at Work and in Life

Written by Libby Gordon.

Author: Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas
Reviewed by: Libby Gordon 

Kicking off NZBWN International Women’s Day on a cold winter February morning a group of Kiwi women gathered on Zoom, coffees in hand, lockdown weariness on faces, to discuss… humour! Humour Seriously

The conversation as always, wove around a bit as reflections and takeaways were shared from the pages read. Easy to consume, either reading or listening the people enjoyed the relationship between the two authors, they enjoyed the collaboration, friendship and story that was woven throughout. 

The two main takeaways from the conversations were around being yourself and the importance of humour, especially in the workplace. 

The first point was nicely summed up by this statement ‘I don’t see self as very funny, this book may not be for me… but it is not about telling jokes it is more about being yourself’

There was a recognition that you don’t have to be a comic to bring levity into your work persona; it’s about your personality and what works for you but not being afraid to use what you have. Often surprise humour is the funniest, it does not need to be a big joke, just something to show personality so that other parties know they are not talking to a brick wall. Being natural can help you to be better at your job; one group member reflected how it made their sales calls better, just being themselves. 

The current context, working from home, is just not as fun at the moment, people are tired and the human aspect is missing. And though people were concerned that joking at work could go wrong and therefore will often avoid humour, overall it was felt it was valued and levity is useful. 

People want their leaders to be real and bringing humour is part of that. They want to work with others who can break the mood with a laugh, giving people time to stop and rethink especially when something has gone wrong. Both these things can help to change the mood and help create feelings of being in it together. As sometimes, and more so currently, there are times at work and in life where if you don’t laugh you cry.

The stories shared within the book that captured people's attention were about ‘callback’, a comedian's favourite way to get a laugh. You listen for a moment of laughter, and then look for opportunities to invoke this later on. This is a very easy way to promote bonding within a group. And also the frozen rose machine (and time not working) helps to build relationships  - everyone was on board with that idea.

Stories were shared of zoom fails, dealing with bereavement at work, cross generational relationships and how humour and making the effort to look for the funny moments can help. 

There was a lot of reflection on the moment in time we find ourselves (here in the UK). People are looking forward to getting back to seeing others face-to-face and understanding each other in a different way, for it to take less effort to find those funny moments. All in all we agreed, humour is really important, it is about building relationships and getting to know people, it builds trust. Those ‘little moments of personality’ allow us all to laugh and get on with it.