Mary Poppins Knew Best

petermargaritis-blog-marypoppinsknewbestWho is going to argue with the wisdom of, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down?” Certainly not me. Think about it – I’m sure you do some form of this with your children, or dog, if you have either – in order to get them to digest something undesirable, but necessary. You add something sweet to go with it!

I am definitely in favor of taking this advice literally during the undesirable time of year that is busy season. Sweets and snacks made available during the long, endless hours of busy season can certainly go a long way, but so can something else that’s “sweet.” Humor.

Is there anything better than experiencing a really good laugh? It’s one of those sensations that lightens your mood, makes you want more. When something is funny, it feels good – it’s the sweet that can make the medicine of long hours taste a little better. So, why are so many workplaces seemly devoid of humor? The answer definitely depends on your culture and your colleagues. The point is, humor isn’t as common and present as it should be…and stress can be a big reason for that.

I get it; people are feeling tense. It’s a stressful election season, we’re in survival mode with ramped up deadlines, we’re all just trying to get through till quitting time. And let’s be honest, when you’re facing a tough deadline or enduring an impossible task, do you really want to be interrupted with some joker saying, “Hey, did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi, and Bill Clinton walking into a bar?” Nope. Not the time, not interested. However, humor need not be a stand-up routine – it can be present in how you finish a request in an email, or a brief quip in passing to a colleague in the lunchroom. Perhaps you won’t get a belly-laugh each day at work, but you’ll be a part of lightening the mood and thereby making work more enjoyable for not only you but everyone on your team.

Here are some ideas of how to get your team on board to invite and enjoy a little humor this busy season:

  • Use the internet. Google any number of phrases “busy season laughs,” “accountant humor,” etc. to find funny accountant memes, hashtags, articles, and GIFS to enjoy throughout the season. Let us give thanks to the internet for being able to find stupid, yet funny relatable things for us to laugh about.
  • Schedule office get-togethers – even if brief (30 minutes) and in the break or lunch room. Give people a reason to take a break, interact, and enjoy something different whether it be a treat, reward, or lunch.
  • Keep a positive attitude – it can be contagious.

Busy season doesn’t last forever – but the memories (good ones!) can live on for a long time and, with just the right amount of humor and engagement, it can actually become a time of year your team doesn’t dread.

Start practicing using humor effectively every day by joining my Yes, And Challenge. Share your challenge insights on Twitter with #YesAndChallenge or The Accidental Accountant Facebook Page.

Humor as a Healer

Humor as a HealerSo many workplaces seem devoid of humor. I ask my audiences, “When was the last time your coworkers burst out into laughter and it wasn’t at your expense?” The answer definitely depends on your culture and your colleagues.

All too often, stress is the reason for all that office ennui. People are in survival mode, just trying to get through till quitting time. In fact, when you’re facing a tough deadline or enduring an impossible task, the last thing you probably want to hear is some joker saying, “Hey, did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi, and Bill Clinton walking into a bar?” You want to rip their tonsils out.

A regular dose of laughter, however, reduces stress, and it’s desirable. In fact, a Forbes article written by Jacquelyn Smith cited a few statistics that validate the importance of humor, “A Robert Half International survey, for instance, found that 91% of executives believe a sense of humor is important for career advancement; while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humor do a better job. Another study by Bell Leadership Institute found that the two most desirable traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor.”

There is the unknown of being the person to initiate – will your coworkers think it’s funny? Will anyone be offended? Will they join in on the banter? However, as you make the effort to get to know your team members, you’ll soon be able to determine your comedic boundaries. Remember, wit and humor is appreciated, and it’s needed! So, let yourself laugh, doing so will reduce your stress and helps others reduce theirs. Laughter is the proven antidote, and it comes naturally when the company culture is conducive to it – be a part of it!

Learn more about how improv principles can improve your career by tuning into my new podcast series Improv is No Joke, available on iTunes, Stitcher, and my website.

 

The Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program

logo-geIf you who travel a lot, like I do, you’re probably tired of standing in long TSA lines. The Global Entry Trusted Traveler program may be just the help you need. This must-have for weary travelers has two main benefits: you are automatically enrolled in the TSA pre-check, and you receive expedited customs processing.  I looked into this and want to share what I learned.

The first step is submitting an online application Once your application has been conditionally approved (pending a thorough background check) you must schedule a one-on-one interview at one of 40 U.S. Customs and border protection offices in the United States.

This interview process takes less than 15 minutes and you’re required to answer a few questions, be photographed and have your fingerprints taken. Once this has been completed and approved you are given a known traveler number that you input into your profile at the airlines that you travel with and when you make your next reservation you are automatically  given TSA pre-check status.

The cost of this program is $100. Some of you may be wondering what’s the difference between the Global Entry program and TSA pre-check program.  The TSA pre-check program only cost $75, however, currently the only application site is in Indianapolis (future locations in New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles are being considered).

For me the extra 25 bucks was well worth the expedited processing, and I’m glad to be part of the Global Entry Trusted Traveler network.

Less time in lines. It’s a good thing!