The Joke's on You

Who doesn’t love a good joke? Well, perhaps a better question is, “Who does these days?” In a world that has gotten so politically correct, the risk of offending someone is pretty high and simply telling a joke could put your career at risk.

Not only have we lost our sense of humor but past behaviors are now being held to today’s cultural standard and this bears severe consequences.

Whatever happened to the notion that we are evolving beings and what of the concept of forgiveness? We all made mistakes and we will continue to do so because humans aren’t perfect.

As someone who grew up in the metaphorical locker room of a trading floor, I have always loved an off color joke and the naughtier the better. But tolerance for any such antics is currently zilch and so I would warn everyone to steer clear of attempting comedy in the workplace.  

There is nothing more senseless than a career ending because of a harmless joke that has gone wrong. I have seen it countless times especially at my former firm when I worked in HR. Inevitably, some poor chump would be called up to HR because he overstepped and told a joke that got someone’s nose out of joint.

The story is always the same and begins with a few colleagues sharing some laughs. One joker tries to outdo the other and soon the quality of decorum deteriorates. Then the final blow, one joker opens his mouth and the words pour out faster than he can stop them. At that very moment, he knows that he has gone too far. He hopes that one had noticed and tries to casually sweep it under the rug but to no avail. The next day he receives the dreaded phone call from HR and off to the principal’s office he goes!

The moral of this story is evident. Bear in mind that whenever everyone is laughing their guard is down and a casual tone ensues. That is when we become careless and sloppy and swept up in the moment. If you insist on bringing humor into the workplace, I could only recommend that you keep it clean, keep it light and keep it neutral otherwise you may become that bud of a very a bad joke.

In defense of humor, I leave you with one of my favorite Wall Street jokes.

 A successful trader parked his brand new Porsche in front of his office ready to show it off to his colleagues. As he got out, a garbage truck sideswiped him and completely tore off the driver’s side. The trader immediately grabbed his mobile and dialed 911. Less than 5 minutes later a policeman pulled up, but before he had a chance to ask any questions the trader started screaming about his car. After the trader finished his rant the policemen shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe how materialistic you traders are,” He said, “You’re so focused on your possessions you don’t notice anything else.” “How could you say that?” asked the trader. The policeman replied, “Didn’t you realize that your left arm is missing from your elbow down? It’s been torn off from when the truck hit you.” The trader looked down in absolute horror “Bloody Hell!” he screamed, “Where’s my Rolex?!”