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All In Good Fun: Incorporating Humor Into Compliance Training & Communications

by Phoebe Larson

· training,communications,respect

Laughter truly is the best medicine. Studies have shown laughter can boost the immune system, increase blood flow, ease tension, and strengthen resilience, among a host of other benefits. One place we could use more of it is in the workplace — but many of us are duly cautious about mixing business with humor.

In fact, we’ve heard more than once that when it comes to certain compliance subjects like respect, humor “just can’t be done.” It’s true that the wrong jokes can send the wrong message or leave a bad taste in employees’ mouths. But when done well, humor can also make a topic more approachable and unite employees with a shared sense of community.

We love a good laugh at Rethink and embrace humor in our content when appropriate. So we wanted to share a video from our library, "We All Know Disrespect," as an example of how humor can lighten the mood around a weighty topic, while presenting a critical teaching point. Check it out below!

"We All Know Disrespect" is now available in the Rethink Compliance Library. Email us at hello@rethinkcompliance.com for licensing.

Want to add an element of humor to your compliance training and communications? Here are a few tips. 

1. Gently Punch Upward

When writing scenarios, the joke shouldn’t be the inappropriate remark, but how the hero of the scenario successfully responds. 

2. Make It Motivational 

Our main priority is to inspire people to do the right thing, and our use of humor is no exception. We avoid jokes that are negative, crass, or self-deprecating in any way and focus on humor that is optimistic and motivational. 

3. Let the Visuals Do the Work 

Sometimes the best way to demonstrate humor is through photo and video elements. In "We All Know Disrespect," the humor is in the characters’ facial expressions, while the message is clear and direct. When you work across many cultures, you know the challenges of translating a joke into other languages, but a wry glance needs no translation. 

4. Make Sure It Adds Value 

The average attention span is eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish. Our top priority is for people to come away with essential learning. Unless the humor makes a key point, it generally ends up on the cutting room floor. 

5. Know Your Audience 

The use of humor in compliance training should align with the company culture. If your culture is more reserved, don’t force it. Humor in compliance training is a bonus, not a necessity. 

What’s making you laugh? Share your best material, stories and anecdotes in the comments or tag us @Rethink Compliance on LinkedIn.

And if you’d like to learn more about licensing “We All Know Disrespect” for your own program, reach out to us at hello@rethinkcompliance.com.  

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