It’s good to have fun at work but you need to be careful with how fun and humor is defined. Horseplay is usually not recommended and often not allowed for good reason. Humor on the other hand is often allowed and even encouraged but it’s still good to be careful. It is useful to know that there are several types of humor that may, or may not, be appropriate in the workplace and when used inappropriately, can get you into hot water. When used appropriately, i.e., “Humor is in the eye of the beholder,” it can raise morale, build team spirit, and improve productivity!
Dr. Rod Martin, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, and his fellow researchers have devised the Humor Styles Questionnaire that allows us to determine which of four styles of humor is being used more often in an organization. The four styles are Self-enhancing, Affiliative, Aggressive, and Self-defeating.
- Self-enhancing humor is a type of mild humor used to enhance oneself.
- Affiliative humor is used to enhance one’s relationships with others.
- Aggressive humor is used to enhance the self at the expense of others.
- Self-defeating humor is used to enhance relationships at the expense of oneself.
It’s fairly obvious that Self -enhancing and Affiliative humor can be more beneficial than Self-defeating and Aggressive humor. Most organizations have a combination of all four types of humor being displayed at various times and situations.
It’s always good to remember: Humor is in the eye of the beholder! If even one person thinks it’s not funny, it’s not funny. Most businesses don’t think about this, many don’t teach it to their employees, and many don’t consider how it impacts company culture, morale, and employee productivity.