We've all got our roles at work. There's the girl who always brings in food for the office, the coffee runner, the extra helper who's always willing to pitch in, and of course, the funny one. Humor can be a touchy area. You're not a stand-up comic, so there is definitely a lot that is off limits in the workplace and doesn't fly under the guise of humor, even before it reaches HR.
A good sense of humor is actually one thing potential emplyers look for in job interviews and can be key in answering their question on if you fit into the office environment. Just the same, it can be the reason you don't get called back. Follow these suggestions to make sure your humor stays on point.
Your humor is an extension of you, so keep it that way
This comes in at number one because you don't want to ever force a joke or try to get a laugh when it's not the right time. If "too soon" or something with a level of severity is taking place, avoid trying to lighten the moods until it's already heading in that direction. While a well placed joke can brighten the entire mood of the office, but if it makes people cringe and you want to hide, it's totally not worth it.
Make sure you don't feel pressure to be funny either. It's okay to let a mood sink in or bad news take it's course. Just because you are the funny one doesn't mean you need to be all the time. If it's not coming naturally that is perfectly okay. A lot of the time humor takes a turn south out of good intention, albeit forced because there really isn't humor in a situation. Also, feel free to let the little nuances and quirks in your personality brighten people's day, but understand when it's not coming across. If you "speak fluent sarcasm" for instance, make sure people know! If there's a new co-worker or client around that doesn't know your personality it's best to keep the sarcastic low-hanging-fruit pun alone, otherwise you might be facing some sour grapes. In all seriousness, knowing how a joke will be recieved and if it properly represents you is key to letting your lighter side show.
Avoid jokes over email
While something might be hilarious or have you chuckling at your desk as you type up a response, it might not always be received so kindly. Emailing co-workers is super useful, but when you can't control context, tone, and even body language it becomes easier for things to be misinterpreted. There's also a possibility the email is forwarded to someone or there is a reply where the joke is further down in the email responses and becomes a distraction which will annoy people. Try to keep the jokes in person as much as possible or be very clear with your intent to joke. The worst case would be if you say something in an email intended to be sarcastic or taken with a grain of salt and the person receiving the email actually does what you said to do or becomes offended. Also, as always things should stay appropriate. If it's something you would share over email but not in person, it's not worth sharing... just ask Michael from the show "The Office" about his Sandals trip with Jan.
Humor should be fun for everyone
If your jokes are consistently coming at the expense of one person you need to stop. While Jerry Gergich of "Parks and Rec" is fun to make fun of and takes it in stride, in real life it hurts people and can drive valuable employees away from the company. It's one thing to joke around as the office dynamic becomes closer, but if it ever burns a little too much or becomes too personal and feels like middle school again, then you've just made the transition from humor to drama. Drama, in any sense, is never a positive thing for the work place.
Like we said in the first section, your humor is an extension of yourself so you should remember that you could get labeled as a jerk even if you think what you said is okay. Don't be too surprised if you walk the line with your jokes and it catches up with you. And the very worst thing would be to actually hurt how someone feels in their standing within the company due to repetetive teasing.
Timing is everything, but when in doubt take a couple seconds to ask: Is this something I'd be proud of? Is this the right place and time? Is this something everyone can laugh at without feeling guilty? If it passes those three questions, it's probably okay. Just remember to trust your gut, but a better bet would be to trust HR's.