Prof Patrick J. Murphy,Assistant Professor of Management, Kellstadt GSB, DePaul University; asked 'How important is a sense of humor in people you hire or who collaborate with you?'

my reply:
thanks Patrick for the question. : )

Right now, I am typing merrily with my forefinger during break.
Depends on what humor we are talking about. It has to come with respect of cultures and mannerisms. But sometimes, I feel that people may be overtly sensitive and mistake a certain well-meaning humor -- usually happens on the internet where all you rely are the words you see on the page.

Humor with good wit and tact solves problems. It is not an easy task to do. Even more so if it is on a rough situation where the issue is serious. Then again the most successful politicians, diplomats, business people, writers, professors etc are often equipped with a keen sense of creativity with not only the work they do but the words they use. Such tact brings down barriers, softens a tense scenario up, simplifies complexity. And before you know it, the problems are usually eliminated to a very large extent. Good humor is rare and cannot be taught.

Lack of seriousness, however, is another matter. I don't think you can equate that to good sense of smart humor. Minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew often makes his audience laugh during his political/national speeches. That doesn't make him look anything less than a serious politician. Bob Hope, as with Bill Cosby, are comedians who bring out the problems in life for us to think about; and you don't see them lack the qualities of an intellectually smart comedian. Thomas Friedman's natural sense of humor found in his books is another example. These people do not load people with verbose talks and written matter. They make you enjoy the toughest kind of intellectual ideas in layman terms.

Tommy Koh, our former Ambassador to the US, used humor to lighten tones in diplomatic matters. He smoothed out wrinkles very well.

What would be dreadfully stupid is to rigidly use the so-called sense of seriousness and formality with a certain fixed formula to solve a problem. When there is a much simpler way to do so, a creative and intelligent person would change the routes and make a way to a fine, happy and even an amicable solution.

That, to me, is very smart wise and extremely intelligent.

if I were to hire, such skills mentioned in my reply above would be an ideal choice. Knowledge, substance and character with an original sense of wit is the biggest draw. I would not want to work with or collaborate with verbose people who think they know it all. Humor is a catalyst. People who are able to provide humor needs certain kind of intelligence. Really it requires a strategy in words, context and meaning. If you could find such a person, do contact me, I am looking for work partners who are not only bright academically, but brilliant in social entrepreneurship too.
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