Have you ever done something embarrassing, said something unintentionally funny or just goofed up at work?  Did you laugh at yourself?  Let others laugh too?

Joellen was making a presentation to a major client – one that she’d been working to cultivate for many months.  Thanks to plenty of preparation, she was feeling confident and energized.  The presentation was going well; in fact, members of the client group had big smiles on their faces. Wow, they’re really into this information, Joellen thought to herself.

About 20 minutes into the talk, she happened to glance at her hands.  They were covered in ink from the purple whiteboard marker.  Just then, she caught her reflection in the nearby window.  Not only were Joellen’s hands purple, but she had blotches of purple on her sleeves and her face.

Instead of breaking down, Joellen cracked up.  Between peals of laughter, she said to the group, I’ve always thought that purple was my best color! After a few minutes of good-natured chuckles, Joellen got back to the subject, engaged her audience and won over her client.

We’ve all been there, done that.  The first instinct might be to find the nearest hole and crawl in. But what are the benefits of rising above our embarrassment and enjoying the moment?

Laughter, according to most people’s experience and even medical experts, is good medicine.  Laughter’s workplace benefits include:

Connects co-workers. Self-deprecating humor lets those around us know we are human.  Laughing aloud at oneself, and letting others laugh too, builds connective relational tissue.

Creates a lighter atmosphere by reducing stress. Laughter lowers the body’s level of stress-related chemicals, increases blood flow and reduces pain.  Laughter means we are not as uptight about the looming deadlines, the budget crunch or the recent change from three-ply to two-ply toilet paper.

Cultivates humility and courage. Laughter shows our co-workers and clients that we are not afraid of our mistakes.  And recovering quickly from our mistakes – through laughter – models humility and courage for the workplace.

Boosts confidence. When we survive these bumps in the road, we realize that we don’t have to be perfect to be great at what we do. We’re in a stronger position to face the next embarrassing moment.

Allows you to move on and get the job done. You laugh, they laugh. Everyone gets back to the business at hand.

If your goof-up has impact on others, follow up and apologize. If it only made you cringe, laugh it off.  To err may be human, but to laugh about it certainly makes life more fun.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!