Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Humour in a cold climate

In these austere times, despite moments of relief and joy for many, it is very hard to remain positive and act progressively. It is all too easy to retreat into a reactive bubble and just live from day to day, doing only that which is absolutely necessary to keep your head above water. Creativity flounders, working relationships are put under huge strain and leadership can descend into the emaciated hell of just following procedures.

One thing that remains though, despite all this gloom, is humour. Our ability to take a wry slant on the world and grimly laugh at the situation can be majestic. Humour is the warmth that keeps our home fires burning - or at least the embers glowing, ready to spark into flame when more fuel is found. Humour can make even the coldest places seem warmer and more hopeful.

Some years ago, I made a point of collecting a few examples of workplace humour which I share below. I do this for several reasons. Firstly I hope the statements below make you laugh and even if it is only through gritted teeth, I hope the small shot of endorphins helps. Secondly, if you come across any other examples that you would like to share please do so - you can add a comment below or email me. And thirdly, I hope this small smattering of humour helps you stay in touch with your ambitions and assists you in keeping on keeping on in these difficult times.

Some years ago in one senior police managers office, I came across this simple statement, pinned up on his notice board:

The only difference between this place and the Titanic is that 
they, at least, had a band.

Pinned up on a general notice board of a financial services company I once worked with, I saw:

The Management regrets that due to the current economic climate, it has been necessary to make certain economies. Therefore the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched off until further notice.

In a well known consumer campaigning organisation that I once did some work with, the following posters sprang up overnight like a blanket of bluebells:

Meetings: the practical alternative to work
Are you lonely...?
Do you work on your own...?
Do you hate having to make decisions...?
Then hold a meeting!
You can get to see other people, sleep in peace, off-load decisions, feel important and impress your colleagues.

And then in another organisation, I saw this:

The Curse of the Pyramid
I will never forget the time when we entered the 
final chamber of the biggest pyramid. 
The endless variety of furnishings, the sense of absolute stillness... 
of action long ago abandoned... the incomprehensible symbols 
written for no living person to read...

And I turned to my companion and said "it's just like head office really, isn't it?" 
But he disagreed as he couldn't see a coffee machine.

(For 'head office' insert your own suitable place, of course!)

And finally, I would offer you this to indicate that I can laugh at myself as well:

The Consultants Promise
We may not succeed in answering all of your questions.
Indeed you may feel that we have not answered any of them.
Nonetheless, you can be assured that the answers we do give will only serve to raise a whole new set of questions
And so, in some ways, you may feel as confused as ever.
However, we promise, that you will be confused on a much higher level about far more important things.

Naturally, I would like to thank all the people who penned or posted these pieces of humour. I don't know their names, I am afraid, but I am most grateful to them. And like I say, if you know of any more items that made you laugh, do please share them. Thanks.

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