Humor at Work: What Type of Workplace Humor Are You Using?

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1. What Type of Workplace Humor are You Practicing?

Humor researchers (now there’s a job no one told me about when I
was a kid) group humor into four categories: aggressive humor
(which pokes fun at other people’s expense), affiliative
humor (humor that helps build relationships), self-enhancing
humor (pokes fun at oneself in a positive manner) and self-
defeating humor (humor that tries to build relationships
by demeaning oneself).

Studies reported in the International Journal for Humor Studies
(and boy, if anyone can suck the fun out of a fun topic, it’s
these folks), suggest that people who use aggressive humor tend
to be more hostile and have fewer social networks. People who use
a lot of self-defeating humor, tend to have lower self-esteem,
less social support, and experience more anxiety, while people
who use self-enhancing humor tend to be more optimistic, more
hopeful, and have a better social network.

There’s nothing trivial about this. Given the connections
between humor and mental health, and the connections between
maintaining positive social networks at work and happiness, it’s
worth having a look at the type of humor you practice. As well,
this ties into the idea that, on average, for every one
positive comment in the typical workplace, there are ten negative
(seagull!) comments, and chances are at least some of these
negative comments are in the form of aggressive or sarcastic humor.
So it’s not just the quantity of humor in your workplace, it’s
the quality of humor that can have a huge impact on relationships,
self-esteem, attitudes and mental health.
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2. Mike’s Fun at Work Tip

Okay, so this one’s a little out there, but what the heck. Sub
Pop Records in Seattle once hired a pet psychic and asked their
employees to bring their pets in to work! (How else are you going
to know what’s going on in Fluffy’s head?) If that’s too far out
for you, then just have a bring your pet to work day. OR, a pet
your psychic day! OR, bring in a people psychic (but then
that might just be getting a little too silly).
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3. Quote of the Week

“A sense of humour is maturity and wisdom; and there is no
maturity and wisdom without a sense of humour.” George Mikes
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4. It’s a Wacky, Wacky, World

The word of the week: “nastygram”. (Sort of the opposite of a
candygram or humor-gram!) Yes, it’s a petty, sometime vicious,
punitive e-mail fired off in haste, often used by micromanaging
micromanagers in lieu of sending a nice gift basket.
Happy Hump Day one and all. Make time to laugh.
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Copyright Michael Kerr, 2008. mike@mikekerr.com www.mikekerr.com

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