The University Record, May 22, 2000

Used properly, humor a plus in workplace, Stasinski says

Workplace 2000: Career Success in the 21st Century

By Theresa Maddix

“How many of you have stress at work?” keynote speaker Walt Stasinski asked to launch his Workplace 2000 presentation. Stasinski then proceeded with a joke-peppered talk about how to have fun on the job.

“It is a myth that you have to be serious to be successful,” Stasinski said. “Humor is a sign of strength, intelligence and quick thinking. People having fun at work are more motivated, more productive and less likely to be late for or miss work.

“Fun,” Stasinski says, “gives your University the competitive advantage.

“Do you feel,” Stasinski asked, “that someone in your department was hired into the University with the sole purpose of making your life miserable?”

People are trained, said Stasinski, to handle conflict with aggression. A better path, Stasinski suggested, is to “use humor to go with the flow and get control.”

Stasinski related a story of a man who was a wonderful, well-liked and productive employee who routinely showed up 15 minutes late for work. The man had a developmentally disabled child he needed to take to school each morning before work. One day his boss became enraged at the man’s lateness and announced in front of everyone that if he was late one more time he was fired.

The next morning the man ran into a traffic jam and didn’t arrive to work until 9:15. When he got there, all eyes were on him and his supervisor was standing ready to greet him. The man walked straight up to the supervisor, shook his hand and said, “Hello, I’m here to apply for a job that just opened up 15 minutes ago.”

Before using workplace humor to go with the flow, Stasinski advises practicing with friends and family. “Humor must be used at the right time and in the right place.

“Celebrate your success,” Stasinski said. At the end of each week pop the cork on a bottle of non-alcoholic juice and toast a job well done. Learn the Australian Aboriginal word “Moomba” and “the next time you have stress at work, say the word—moomba—and focus on the fun.”

Appreciation also is important. “Catch somebody doing something right,” Stasinski said, quoting Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager. The noted psychologist William James said, “The greatest need of human beings is the need to be appreciated.”

One way to show people the appreciation they deserve is to give an employee a standing ovation. “All of you deserve a standing ovation,” Stasinski said, for the positive things you do that your supervisor doesn’t realize, for keeping up with changes in the workplace, for being part of the noble mission of education and for showing up to work.

Using visual aids, Stasinski offered three choices for a career.

1. You can have a career without fun—a book with blank pages.

2. You can have a career and hope it’s fun—a coloring book, not colored in.

3. You can have a career and make it fun—a book in full color.