Recently I was having a discussion with a good friend who is a senior executive assistant and we were talking about why it seems that when we are in the midst of chaos, and being pulled in every possible direction, there is always that one person who just doesn’t seem to understand the situation or what we are managing.
On this particular day, my friend was pulling her hair out from dealing with an exasperating phone call. One of her team members knocked on her office door, oblivious to the fact that my friend was on the phone, and stressfully stated “hey, I’m sorry to bother you right now but did you know there are flies in the bathroom?” My friend put the call on hold and looked at her colleague and calmly said... “I told them to leave yesterday. You mean they are still there?” and then promptly dismissed the team member and went back to her call. We have all had those kinds of crazy days when we’re being asked to create miracles, pull rabbits out of hats and be magicians and candidly, there is just nothing we can do but either cry or laugh at the questions or the things we are being asked to do.
Sometimes it might just be a good time for witty comebacks!
I am a firm believer that as administrative professionals, we are the barometer of how our partnerships, our teams, and our organizations fair, even on the toughest of days. We can tell when there is tension or stress in the room (zoom or otherwise) and it became part of my job description to keep everyone calm, positive, and in some cases, bring a bit of fun and humor into the mix when appropriate and when I felt it was needed.
One of the funniest moments that occurred in my career was the day we received a new and fairly technical copy machine in our office. One of our more serious and intense executives walked by and asked me how to use it as he wanted to make copies. I beamed at the opportunity to share with him that the new copy machine had the latest voice technology (similar to Alexa) and all he had to do was put his
paper on the glass and then tell the machine how many copies he wanted. He proceeded to state “three copies please” and then looked at me and stated, "nothing is happening’." I told him that he may need to speak more clearly because as with Alexa, it doesn’t always get it the first time....so he spoke more clearly “Three ...COPIES...PLEASE”. Again, he looked at me somewhat frustrated, and stated again, “it’s not working”. This time I told him, “you probably just need to get a bit closer to the machine.” Again, he leaned in really close to the glass and this
time practically yelled – “3 COPIES PLEASE!” It was all I could do to keep a straight face. When he finally realized what was
happening, I had to face the reality that he may not have taken this practical joke well; however, his stern and completely frustrated look turned into a giant grin! Note: there are no voice-activated copy machines out there that I know of yet (but then again, who knows).
If we can turn to humor on those crazy and stressful occasions, it can have tremendous effects on others as well as ourselves:
- Helps dissipate strain and anxiety.
- Laughter releases endorphins that are just plain good medicine.
- Brings a positive mood to the situation.
Some of the things I did during my crazy days were simple but amazingly effective:
- Created a whiteboard experience where the whiteboard was visible to the team and a place where people could write down their favorite words, phrases, or even witticisms.
- Collected fun jokes and then had them pop up in my email as reminders (then I would share the joke with others).
- Periodically I would wear a clown nose, yes I did (that was always guaranteed to make people smile & laugh).
It can be a good thing to have a little fun occasionally to bring the mood up from one of intensity to one of stress relief as long as it doesn’t offend anyone because... a smile or a bit of laughter can be the ultimate remedy! What kinds of things do you do to bring fun into your work to eliminate stress?