With news coming out over the weekend that a UK politician felt that they were passed over for promotion because of being considered too witty for a senior job, it got me wondering whether the use of wit in the workplace is either a help of a hindrance in terms of career progression.
If you are naturally witty and considered to have a good sense of humour, this will make you much more endearing to your peers, which should have a positive effect on your career progression. However, if you are continually trying to be witty, even in serious situations, you could quickly become a source of annoyance. If your witty interjections constantly backfire, you could even become a source of ridicule in the office. If your witty interjections are racist, sexist or in general bad taste you run the risk of developing into a David Brent type character in the office.
What about sarcasm?
Oscar Wilde once said that “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence”. Sarcasm can be extremely funny and entertaining if delivered at the appropriate moment. However, if you are sarcastic all day, every day, people will not take you seriously and you could rapidly become a source of annoyance.
Having a witty colleague in your workplace, especially if everyone understands their wit and humour can be a great addition to the ambiance of the office. When people are having fun in work, they are generally more productive. Not many people would choose to work in a drab and dull office environment, which is severely lacking in fun. However, office wit, which is in poor taste or constantly targeting a specific individual can be extremely counter-productive to attaining a positive working environment.
In conclusion, like any good comedian, you should be familiar with your audience and know the type of humour which they find funny, without causing offence to anybody.