Humor in the Workplace: A Communication Challenge

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“Humor is an intrinsic part of living and working” is the conclusion of an older article I was recently given. The article, titled Humor in the Workplace: A Communication Challenge by Robert A. Vartabedian and Laurel Klinger Vartabedian, professors of speech communication, explores the value of humor at work.

Some interesting notes from the paper:

  • “Humor plays an important role in corporate culture…the more astute one is regarding the uses and misuses of humor, the more effectively one is perceived.” (page 4)
  • The four areas humor is most positively applicable include: social benefits, and leadership, psychological, and physical enhancement. (page 7)
  • “…research has shown that managers displaying a good sense of humor are given more opportunities in organizations than those without a sense of humor.” (page 8)
  • Some of the social benefits of humor include: group cohesiveness, reduction of status differentials, diffusion of conflict, and team-building among diverse groups. (page 9)
  • “Humor helps individuals view themselves and others more objectively and helps build rapport, trust, and acceptance of diversity among team members.” (page 9)
  • Humor allows people to see novel connections and otherwise elusive relationships by stimulating the right part of the brain which controls creative thinking. (page 9)
  • Using humor doesn’t mean being a full-time comedian: “One opening joke can set a positive tone for an entire meeting.” (page 11)

Source: Humor in the Workplace: A Communication Challenge by Robert A. Vartabedian and Laurel Klinger Vartabedian, presented at the annual meeting of the Speech Communication Association, Miami, November, 1993.

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