Uses and Abuses of Humor in the Office


I recently read a Harvard Management Communication Letter that explains how to use, and avoid abusing, humor in the office.  The biggest key to using humor effectively is to know your audience and avoid humor that attacks a person.  The article, Uses and Abuses of Humor in the Office, also includes some great points on why you should use humor.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • “‘Humor is like prescription medicine…It’s perfect and wonderful and just the right thing when used in just the right place and just the right dosage.  But it can be toxic when used badly.'” (page 3)
  • “No office or employee can survive without a sense of humor.” (page 3)
  • “Kidding ourselves and kidding each other is a way of showing support for each other…’When you laugh together you’re standing on the same territory.'” (page 3)

Source: Uses and Abuses of Humor in the Office by Constantine von Hoffman.  Harvard Management Communication Letter, February 1999.

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