The Serious Business of Humor in the Workplace. By Norm Barnhart

April 26, 2010

Life in the workplace is full of pressures, demands and change. With all these challenges bombarding us at work is it really important to take humor seriously? When we consider the positive effects of a positive attitude and the way humor helps us adapt, yes, Humor is a serious part of business.

A study done in 1985 by Robert Haft International discovered that just 15% of workers were let go because they lacked competence in their skills. The majority were fired because they were unable to get along with other employees.

They dug deeper and they asked H.R. and senior management to check off choice attributes they look for in an employee and one of the main ones was humor.

Humor is an asset in the workplace because it encourages communication, builds relationships and helps people get along. It helps generate a positive work environment and builds the team. Humor can also be key in helping people to get past mistakes and misunderstandings.

Humor is a uplifting addition to meetings. A little humor is helpful in making a meeting become energized and it encourages attendance.

Humor in the Workplace – Encouraging Communication

April 25, 2010

Humor Encourages Communication

Laughter helps people get closer and to connect and bond. When we laugh together we find common ground and this builds a positive work environment.

When we can poke fun at ourselves, we can make ourselves more enduring to others with self effacing humor. It helps us avoid looking arrogant or proud and we can be seen as down to earth.

In a difficult situation a bit of humor directed at ourselves can be a non-threatening way help work through a difficult situation. Humor can keep a problem or situation from intensifying and release pressure. A bit of humor can be like lifting a lid off a boiling pot and give a quick break so that the heat can be turned down and a positive solution discovered.

An example of using humor to ask others for patience is the frazzled secretary who posts the sign: “I have only two speeds, and if this one isn’t fast enough then I’m sure you’re not going to like my other.” Another is the somewhat scattered boss who places a note on his messy desk that says, “A Creative Mess is better than Tidy Idleness.” The message is clear, yet it is done with a light and playful way that is less stressful. The secretary uses a sign to poke fun at the situation she is facing daily, and the boss’s note pokes some fun at himself.

Humor in the workplace can help build a team and this is a positive benefit for any business.

Humor in the Workplace – Building and Developing Relationships

April 25, 2010

Humor: a Key to Building Relationships

Staff development is vital to every organization. This team effort is essential for keeping a workplace running efficiently. Humor helps to facilitate this positive environment. We can encourage our co-workers by making a humor bulletin board. This Humor Board is a place where people can post their ideas, cartoons and jokes. The obvious rule is to keep it clean and fun and avoid mean humor directed at groups.

You can add humor to an inner office memo or e-mail. This bit of wit can brighten someone’s day and this is a great way to encourage and uplift co-workers.  People will look forward to hearing from you and may be more open to what you have to say.

A bit of humor helps take the seriousness of work and place it in a lighter perspective. Many people find that they become more connected with those who can bring them a smile.

Humor in the Workplace – Energizing Meetings

April 16, 2010

Meetings are Energized with Humor

Every good speaker has a few jokes or stories up the sleeve. This is a dynamic way to capture and hold attention. We can also illustrate a point with the humorous story illustrating a point. A good laugh wakes up our minds and draws us into what the speaker is saying. A little bit of humor can brighten a meeting and get the group in good spirits to go back to their tasks.

Clinical Psychologist, Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D. states that, “in working environments where humor is supported there develops a culture that utilizes the humor to reduce stress and provide perspective. Learning to laugh at ourselves and our work lightens the load.”

Humor is a major asset to your work life and your career. It is something to get serious about. Now take action and find ways to look at the bright side and spread this to others. A cheerful heart is good medicine.  Find ways to increase your ability to look at things with humor and good cheer and share it with others.

The Serious Business of Humor in the Workplace – Continued

April 14, 2010

Humor can bring a Positive Perspective     by Norm Barnhart

Humor helps us step back and take a different look at things. It is good to try to see things from another point of view and to gain perspective.  Up close a situation can seem difficult or impossible, but if we step back and take a broader view it is possible find new solutions. A challenge can seem less daunting if we look at the problem from a ways back and then we can see that it is not that big in the broader scheme of things.

The old expression is, “someday, we’ll look back at this, and laugh.” For example if you are at a wedding, and the groom slips and falls into the cake, it is tragic. This is not very funny to the bride now, but years later… Of course the sooner we step back, pick ourselves up from our slips and mistakes and laugh at our foibles the sooner we can move forward and get more done.  If the bride laughs everyone is given permission to laugh and the stressful situation evaporates instantly.

Difficulties happen to everyone, we need to learn from our mistakes, but not kick ourselves in the rear continuously.

We need to forgive ourselves, and hope others will too. We also need to show grace toward others so that they will be positive and productive. An environment of grudge keeping and lack of forgiveness will lower productivity and stir resentment.

As Plato said, “Be kind, everyone is facing a hard battle.

Humor in the Workplace – continued

April 14, 2010

Humor – The Magical Stress Reducer

There is potential for stress in every workplace.  It can build and eat away at productivity. A little levity can help reduce stress in difficult situations. Humor can bring people together and this can help refocus their energy to the task at hand.

Stress can aggravate or cause illness. It can increase absenteeism and burn-out. The good news is that humor is a positive and powerful stress reliever. Clinical Psychologist, Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D. states that “humor is a great stress reliever because it makes us feel good, and we can’t feel good and feel stress simultaneously. At the moment we experience humor, feelings like depression, anger, and anxiety dissolve.”

Dr. Sultanoff states that laughter reduces stress by activating the physiological systems including the muscular, respiratory, cardiovascular, and even the skeletal. He says, “In fact, we may even lose muscle control, as many of us have, when we laugh so hard that we fall down or wet our pants. Laughter has been labeled a jogging and juggling of the internal organs.” Laughter can make us feel physically better. After a good laugh we can feel lighter and more relaxed.

The mind is amazing, we can only have one focused thought at a time. Like a television set turned to one channel our mind has one channel on at a time. What happens with laughter is that we can mentally change the channels in our mind and go from a negative or stressful thought to another channel and that brings almost instant benefits as we move to a positive thought.

Norman Cousins called this aspect of how humor changes our thoughts a “train wreck of the mind.” Humor takes two opposing ideas and brings them together in a quick way. The way humor works is that we find that things are funny as a result of going on one track then a surprise hits us. This surprise comes in the form of a punch line in a joke. We are thinking one way and the surprise of the punch line triggers a funny bone in our mind.

Humor helps bring a mindset of creativity because we start to see things in different ways. The more we practice the sense of humor the more our mind expands and looks at the possibilities in front of us. Understanding and enjoying humor is a basic skill for creative problem solving.  A joke has a surprise ending and the mind triggers a laugh because of the incongruity of the situation.

Many problems can be solved in unexpected ways and we can creatively find solutions by thinking in different ways.  Study and development of humor can help up develop this skill.

This Spring – Grow your Business!

April 11, 2010

I am watching the flowers sprout up all over the yard and have been planning the garden today. It is too early to put things into the ground but we have many plants inside the house slowly growing and getting ready for the garden.

Today was enjoyable as we looked over the garden plot and decided where to eventually put things in. It is fun to watch it all come up and to later enjoy the tasty tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and other yummy stuff.

Business growth takes planning too. Goals must be set now for projects that will net gains in the future.  It takes careful planning and preparation to see lasting results.  Last year I really worked to build up the strawberry patch. This spring it looks fabulous. Best ever. But all last year it was weed and hoe and help the young plants extend themselves and spread out into new areas.

Spring is a great time to make some plans for growth in your business. Where do you want to be in 3 months, in 6 months. Do you want to expand into a new market? Find new ways to reach out to old customers in a creative way? Make your brand stand out in a memorable way? Find new ways to show excellence in service to your customers and clients. Maybe it is time to weed out some weak part of your business, is there waste, duplication and inefficiency?

Don’t put it off. Make a list of goals and then get to them. Keep a positive attitude as you move forward on your goals. Make the goals clear and achievable. It is good to list sub goals for each goal. These are the steps necessary to achieve the goal.

Strive for excellence but don’t get over stressed. It is good to laugh and have some fun along the way. Enjoy the day and watch the results of your efforts make your business grow.

10 Business Success Secrets – Part 1

April 5, 2010

By Norm Barnhart

Your mind is a big factor in your success in business. How you think can have a huge impact on this success.  Check out the following areas and see if there are ways to look at things differently or ways you can improve your results through creative solutions.

What is your purpose for being in business? Many think that the purpose I to make some money. But if profit is the only goal the long term results can be very poor. You goal needs to be creatively getting and keeping customers. Excellence in service can keep customers and bring more in through referrals. Brian Tracy a business researcher, author and trainer says that, “Fully 50 percent of your time, efforts, and expenses should be focused on creating and keeping customers in some way.”  The benefit to your business long term comes from finding ways to innovate in the way you serve and help people.

The way to measure your success is with customer satisfaction. Your ability to really satisfy your customer’s needs and wants is very important. If you can give them more than they expect and really shine with service, they will tell their friends and come back again and again. This is the key to your businesses growth and long term success.  Oh yes, and here is where your profits come in. Everyone wins.

The Value of Value

If we can add value to the customer’s experience they will see the value and return. Be on the lookout for creative ways to add value to what you do.
The Most Valuable Resource to you – The Customer!
It is said, “the Customer is King!” This royal treatment of your honored customers is job one.  Some customers can be difficult or challenging, demanding or disloyal. But we need them to maintain our businesses so we need to creatively look for ways that and our excellence in service can turn around difficult situations. Our main goal should be to creatively find ways to keep customers in a positive place where they are excited about doing business with us.

The Magic Word
The word is Contribution! Brian Tracy says that, “In life, work, and business, you will always be rewarded in direct proportion to the value of your contribution to others, as they see it.”  What can you contribute to the community, customer or to others within your own business.  Make yourself a valuable part of every field by what you contribute. In a meeting when you contribute creative ideas, you will find that you are looked to for solutions and this makes you valuable to that group.

10 Creative Success Secrets – Part Two

March 29, 2010

This is the final half of an article on business success by Norm Barnhart.

The Big Question
When you come up against a problem, or need to overcome an obstacle you need to ask the big question, “How?”  As you analyze a situation, constantly ask, “How?” How can I give better service? How can I overcome this customer’s objection? The question, “How?” also is important to moving ahead and making our business better. How can I improve my skills?  How can I achieve a business goal? The most successful people are the ones who ask themselves this question and then act on the answers that come to mind.

Creative Improvement
This world has one constant thing and that is rapid change.  We need to constantly adapt. Even better than adapting is anticipating change and making a conscious effort to continually improve ourselves and our businesses. As Pat Riley, the basketball coach, said, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”  Set aside some creative time while on a plane or during commutes. Think about places in your life and business that need improvement. Creatively find solutions and set goals for implementing them.

A Success Essential
This obvious key to success is something worth taking an extra look at. Without sales a business will wither. The smart guys at Dun & Bradstreet spent a great deal of time analyzing thousands of companies that had gone broke over many years and their stunning conclusion … drum roll please… The #1 reason for business failure was … “low sales.”  Wow, these guys are brilliant!  They even went further and dug deeper and discovered that the #1 reason for business success was . . . “high sales.”  Successful people know that time and effort to improve sales is a vital key to success. We need to discover creative methods of doing marketing and sales presentations.

The Magic Number
The key number to your business is cash flow. This cash flow is as vital to your business as oxygen is to a scuba diver. It is important to keep your business running efficiently. Remember to keep an eye on your cash flow. Do not let it get cut off or your business could be done overnight.  Try to build a reserve, and keep some funds in escrow for upcoming payments to vendors.

The Big Picture
The chief goal for your business is growth.  Make sure you have a plan for growth and energetically move toward it. Your growth comes through creatively managing current clients and discovering new ones. You should have a goal for growth; 10 percent, 20 percent, or more each year. Some companies have actually grown 50 percent or more in one year and this is not a result of luck. They planned for it and got everyone on board working toward that goal. It is measurable by the amount of profits after the cost of doing business.
Get an A for Action!

Take a few moments to analyze your Growth Plan.  You should have a growth plan for the number of new leads you draw to your business, and also have a goal for how many of those potential customers become actual clients.  Write a complete growth plan for your upcoming sales, revenue, and profits.

Having a plan for growth will help you to focus on what matters and to track positive results. Make a map for the way you want to travel ahead in your business and you will see a bright future as you sail toward success.

I enjoy tailoring my presentation to help your group achieve their sales goals in creative ways.

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Randall Munson – Creative Corporate Keynote Speaker by Norm Barnhart

March 16, 2010

Keynote Spweaker Randall Munson

Randall Munson’s creative approach has made him a unique and sought after presenter in the business world.  His main work derives from his corporate motivational speaking that has taken him around the world.  Randall covers topics such as humor in the workplace and leads seminars on techniques for improving teamwork or management skills.

Randall’s presentations for corporate groups are inspirational, as he presents practical business techniques derived from his years of work in management at I.B.M. – the computer innovator.  His warm and humorous speaking style has made him a favorite in the Fortune 500.  He is in the Speaker Excellence Hall of Fame.

Randall has been the double-header presenter with such international figures as former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner as well as with the Prime Minister of Israel, and Nobel Laureate, Shimon Peres. Not surprisingly, Randall has garnered more than 80 Gold Medals in the International Speaker Olympics, an IBM Award for Excellence, and is listed in the Who’s Who of Professional Speaking. He is the first person to be honored as a Distinguished Speaker and he has been named a Certified Speaking Professional, this is an elite group of less than 7% of the professional speakers in the world. He has been selected as one of “The World’s Greatest Business Mentors.”

Randall’s messages stem from his business experience as an IBM Program Manager and an IBM Executive Advocate, who for 20 years led IBM research and development projects with management, architecture, education, and marketing responsibilities. He also held an executive position for 5 years in the Target Corporation. He is former Vice President of Administration at Crossroads College and member of the Board of Directors of Hope International University. He is the founder and president of Creatively Speaking®.

Randall shares his insights as an author or co-author of eleven books including the best seller Create the Business Breakthrough You Want. He has published numerous articles and a monthly column in an international technology magazine. His acclaimed electronic magazine, Business Magic, is read monthly by thousands of decision makers in all 50 states and more than 70 countries around the world who want to experience the magic of Randall’s creative insights, ideas and inspirations for themselves and their businesses.

Check him out at: