A perfectly groomed and poised secretary entered her boss’s large office in a busy corporate setting. While maintaining a professional manner, there was a tinge of nervousness on her face because she was carrying news that she thought would not be taken well.

She started by clearing her throat before saying, “Sir, I’m afraid I’ve got some news that may not be to your liking.”

The boss, who had been deep in concentration on his work, looked up, sighing in frustration. “Why must you break bad news to me every time?” He moaned, obviously annoyed at the thought of receiving yet another unpleasant report. “Can’t you, for once, tell me something encouraging?”

In an attempt to bring some humour and lightness into the situation, the secretary decided to comply with her boss’s request without question. She leaned forward and added, “Okay, here’s some good news for you, sir,” with a playful twinkle in her eye.

Her supervisor leaned in, ready to accept a little of good news in the middle of an otherwise tough workday, interested and mildly amused by her abrupt change in tone.

The secretary revealed something unexpected: “You’re not sterile.” She smiled playfully.

There was stillness for a time, during which her boss and the secretary exchanged puzzled looks. Then their inhibition gave way to boisterous laughing, like a dam cracking. Their laughter reverberated throughout the office, providing a much-needed diversion from the typical seriousness that pervaded their work environment.

The secretary had brightened the mood and put a smile on her boss’s face in that little, funny interaction. The act of adding a little humour to their exchange reminded them that, even in the most stressful work settings, a well-timed joke or a few moments of shared laughing might make the day happier and the relationships between coworkers stronger.

The secretary’s supervisor gained an appreciation for humour and realised that it was crucial to counterbalance the pressures of the business world with the pleasure of a good joke from that day on. It was a brief instruction given in a lighthearted manner that had a long-lasting effect on their working relationship.