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Ask The Experts: How Can I Get People To Take Me Seriously?

Being the class clown may have won you a lot of friends in high school but is cracking everyone up going to kill your career?

Ask The Experts: How Can I Get People To Take Me Seriously?
[Image: Flickr user Robert Couse-Baker]

Making people laugh can make you the life of the party, but where does it put you in the office hierarchy?

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Leadership coach Lolly Daskal helps a reader figure out how to balance humor at work.

Hi there,

No one takes me seriously at work and I don’t know what to do about it.

Growing up I always had the reputation for being the class clown, and I suppose I never really grew out of that. I like being the jovial coworker who has everybody in stitches. But I worry now that this reputation comes at a cost.

Even though I do great work and am an asset to the company, I can’t help but feel that I get overlooked for certain projects and opportunities and my ideas aren’t taken as seriously as my other coworkers’.

How can I get my coworkers, and especially my boss, to respect me?

Sincerely,
Too Funny For My Own Good


Dear Too Funny,

I suspect that one of two things is happening–either your humor is crossing boundaries and making people uncomfortable, or it’s not being balanced with an equally visible seriousness of purpose.

Some things to think about if you want to be taken seriously:

Watch you say and how you say it. Don’t make a joke out of everything. Being happy, being positive, is a great asset, and by all means be yourself, but remember that your goal is to gain the respect and trust of others.

Respect others and respect yourself. Relationships often matter more than the work you do–that may not be fair, but it’s reality. The quality of your work may be trumped by the relationships you build or break. Make it a point to show respect and consideration to your coworkers.

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Be mindful of your environment. The workplace is different from a classroom, and what worked there may not be working now. Make sure that your behavior is centered on how you want to be perceived. Humor can definitely be part of that, but it needs to be tailored to your current environment.

Credibility rules and trust paves the way. When it comes to being respected at work, being credible means that you are responsible and dependable. Even if you’re known as one who can make others laugh, make sure you’re known first as a credible colleague.

Find the balance and bring your best self. The best thing you can do is be yourself but be professional. Find the balance and show confidence in your ability by being your best self.

The bottom line is this: Don’t ever compromise and sell out of the most precious commodity of who you are, but learn to respect yourself and respect the opinions of others. A sense of humor is great, but a sense of purpose is better.

Good Luck,
Lolly Daskal


If you have a dilemma you’d like our experts to answer, send your questions to AskFC@fastcompany.com or tweet a question using #AskFC.

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About the author

Lolly Daskal is a Leadership Development and CEO coach and consultant and founder of Lead From Within. Follow @LollyDaskal.

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