by Lisa Grimaldi | January 01, 2008

IllustrationIn a corporate environment, “funny” must be tempered by the imperatives of business. Still, humor can mitigate tensions and lift spirits, even at work, and humorist Elaine Ambrose ( suggests the following guidelines for office chuckles.

Keep it friendly. Don’t use humor to insult or offend anyone (even though this might be acceptable among a group of friends).

Laugh at yourself. People generally enjoy self-deprecating humor. Just don’t go overboard, or everyone will start to agree that, yes, you are a loser.

Use inside anecdotes. It’s OK to include references to products and competitors in a joke, since most people will be able to relate.

Defuse tension. In times of high financial stress, it’s OK to joke about budget constraints, but steer clear of gibes about the boss, top brass or the new parent company.