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Coming back to work after the Christmas break can rarely be described as joyous. Such is the sense of melancholy that January has its very own ‘down’ day – Blue Monday. Usually falling on the third Monday of the first month – in 2022’s case, the 17th January – Blue Monday is the day when we’re purported to feel the most miserable.

The day was actually dreamt up by a travel company in 2005 as part of an advertising campaign to make people book a holiday, knowing that the weather would be cold and dull. There’s even a scientific formula to work out when the annual day should fall, taking into account debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling the need to take action, as well as the winter climate.

If you arrive at work on Monday 17th January to find everyone moping about, your natural instinct may be to lighten the mood with some funny quips or comical anecdotes. While humour is a great survival tactic during depressing times, office etiquette should still be observed. We’ve added some advice to avoid offense:

Stay away from anything controversial: don’t pursue anything on the ‘ist’ list, so avoid race, sex and size. It’s also sensible not to retell stories or base jokes around religion, gender or politics. Your sense of humour may not be shared by your colleagues and if they take offense, they may have grounds to make a formal complaint against you.

Don’t ridicule: anything that humiliates or makes people feel inferior will not lead to happiness. In fact, it will have the totally opposite effect. Making fun of someone’s characteristics, traits or personal circumstances can create division, dysfunction and ill will. Stay in safe territory by erring away from colleague-based comedy.

Make sure people are laughing with you, not at you: comedy is about timing and delivery. If you’re not a natural, you may come across as painfully unfunny or even a little bit odd. If you really want to lift the mood, a good path to follow is humour based around your own failings. Being able to laugh at yourself shows a humble side and can even be quite endearing.

Keep comedy for appropriate times: January can bring some serious meetings but cracking a one liner when everyone is sat around the boardroom table looking solemn won’t raise a laugh. Comedy is best kept for those more casual moments, such as making a coffee with colleagues or at the start of the day when people are settling down.

Be careful with emails: humour, when delivered with gestures and facial expressions, can really boost the mood in the office but wit and bonhomie doesn’t always translate well to email. Even if you use several emojis, gentle digs can easily be misconstrued when not delivered in person.

Think before circulating and tagging: even if that meme on Facebook made you LOL, think carefully before doing a screen shot and attaching it to a ‘all members’ email. It’s also wise to err on the side of caution when tagging work colleagues in potentially offensive social media memes, gifs and photos as this may cause the graphic to automatically appear in their personal feed.

If you really can’t shake off Blue Monday, nothing beats binge watching a classic comedy box set after work. And if that still leaves you lamenting, perhaps the only antidote is a change in job. Contact Bond Williams for our full list of New Year vacancies.

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