Today's guest post is by Frieda Smason, (pictured) a senior at Stern College – Yeshiva University.
Last week I learned about the effectiveness of humor in the workplace from Steve Cody, professional comedian and “PR man” (a.k.a. co-founder of Peppercom) who came to speak to our class at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University. We participated in a series of exercises that are designed to help you loosen up in front of a crowd. Then, each person got up in front of the class and told a short story about something that really bugs them. The goal of the exercise was to make you realize how well humor and business complement each other when you harness humor properly.
I’ll tell you something not so funny – I work in an office where I am the only woman. That's right – every single person there is male aside from me. The implications of this are very serious: no skim milk in the fridge – ever! Everyone in the office is at least a foot taller than I am, so the paper towels in the kitchen are always just a little too high for me to reach. The announcement board has "funny" jokes about guy things like "The top ten reasons beer was created." And of course, the toilet seat is, without fail, always up.
Trust me; I didn't think any of these things were funny before Steve gave us the comedy workshop. Living in an apartment with female roommates, I'm used to having at least three people always say "God bless you" when they hear me sneeze and, of course, girls discussing drama about boys all the time.
Now I work in the heart of the "boy drama," where I’ve learned that boys aren't that dramatic – at all. I'm slowly realizing that it’s the girls who make all of it up. Guys just like to sit at their computers and eat take-out. I tried to make small talk once at the water cooler by asking someone how their weekend was. His reply? "Bad."
The story I told in front of my class was about a prank one of my co-workers played on me. The short version is that he sent me an email from my boss's phone saying that I had violated company policy and I was going to be terminated if I didn't mend my behavior immediately. When it happened, it was terrifying, but after telling the story in front of the class I realized how funny it actually was.
It's crazy that telling a two-minute story in front of my peers seemed more daunting than handing over a business presentation to my boss, but now that it's over I know that I can do anything – aside from reaching the paper towels at work.