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Sarcasm, Self-Deprecation, and Inside Jokes: A User’s Guide to Humor at Work

Making jokes properly

Making jokes properly is actually an art, which can easily lead to solving or creating issues. A particular situation is the leader's one: mastering the art of joking often results in more popularity and trust from the side of your employees.

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Sarcasm, Self-Deprecation, and Inside Jokes: A User’s Guide to Humor at Work

Sarcasm, Self-Deprecation, and Inside Jokes: A User’s Guide to Humor at Work

https://hbr.org/2020/07/sarcasm-self-deprecation-and-inside-jokes-a-users-guide-to-humor-at-work

hbr.org

9

Key Ideas

Humor at work

Being funny can have both positive and negative consequences, in your personal as well as your professional life. And context is always important: when making a joke, for instance, you should definitely make sure the moment is appropriate for such a behavior.

Making the good jokes at the proper moment can help you become everybody's favorite at the workplace. However, making a bad joke can lead even to being fired: so make sure to choose your attitude appropriately.

Humor and its effects on the status

Humor and status have always been tightly linked: good leaders seem to often use humor in order to motivate their team members' actions. As individuals, we tend to prefer, researchers claim, jokes that make us laugh while feeling slightly uncomfortable.

Furthermore, we perceive the joke teller as a self-confident person, who could easily become a leader due to his or her courage to make such a joke. The key point here is that the joke should be appropriate and match the context.

Inside jokes

Making inside jokes usually shows how bounded a team or a group is: their jokes can understood the best by themselves.

However, the moment an outsider integrates the group, it is better to avoid the inside jokes, as this will most probably make him or her feel out of place.

Sarcasm and its use

Sarcasm has often been associated with creative thinking by numerous researchers.

Used when exchanging information with persons who know you well, it can easily lead to an improved communication level. On the contrary, when used in an exchange with persons you do not know well, can actually result in an unpleasant start. Therefore, better avoid it until it is safe to use.

Self-deprecating humor

Self-deprecating humor can be extremely useful when neutralizing negative information about oneself.

However, it should by all means be avoided when talking about core competencies. Knowing when and how to use it can make all the difference during a job interview, for instance.

Humor as a weapon

We have all found ourselves, at some point in our life, feeling uncomfortable due to a question that was asked to us.

The way we answer to these questions is what makes us stand out in fact: showing self-confidence and humor makes the people around us feel happier and trust us more.

Humor and feedbacks

When delivering negative feedbacks, a good way to do it is by engaging humor.

This has two main consequences: on one hand, it makes criticism more memorable and on the other, it softens negative feedbacks.

Humor as tool to cope with negative feelings

Whenever you deal with negative emotions, humor can prove extremely useful. It does not only ease your pain, but it can also
help you cope with tough situations overall. This is mainly because humor makes you focus less on the negative information. However, it is worth mentioning that only positive humor makes people feel better, while dark humor makes them feel even worse. Therefore, when thinking to use humor, take a second to decide on the proper one to engage with.

Making jokes properly

Making jokes properly is actually an art, which can easily lead to solving or creating issues. A particular situation is the leader's one: mastering the art of joking often results in more popularity and trust from the side of your employees.

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Anyone can use humor

Appropriate humor relaxes an audience and makes them feel more comfortable with you as the speaker. 

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Developing Anecdotes

The best and most comfortable place to find humor comes from your own personal experience. 

Jot down funny ideas as you come across it that might appeal to your audience - an embarrassing moment that you might not have found funny at the time, or a funny conversation you had. 

Honing the Delivery

Make sure your choose humor is funny to you. First practice with small groups of people. Pay attention to the way your are delivering the joke or quip.

Only use humor in a speech after you are comfortable telling it from memory and have tested it.

one more idea

Humor benefits to marketing materials

Humor benefits to marketing materials
  • Humor breaks down walls, shows personality a.k.a. shows a brand's human side.
  • Humor is attention-grabbing. It is naturally colorful and original.
  • People love ...

At its worst, humor is:

  • The wrong joke at the wrong time. It can make your brand look amateurish and unprofessional.
  • If people think you’re cracking jokes for the sole purpose of getting more attention, you’ll be seen as exploitative rather than funny.
  • Humor can cheapen certain ideas or make them be taken less seriously.
  • In some cases, humor can be outright offensive.
  • Key areas to create value with humor

    • Humorous touches can almost always improve a piece that is already valuable on its own.
    • If you’re sure a joke is going to land, it can make an effective advertisement. Test variations of the joke with a small audience first; that way, you can be sure the humor doesn’t cross a line.
    • Brand differentiation. For example, Oreo has long differentiated itself by offering a quirky, tongue-in-cheek voice across its social media platforms. This is especially effective in dry, or otherwise “boring” industries.
    • Personal branding. Elon Musk, for example, has separated himself from his companies Tesla and SpaceX by cracking jokes and roasting people on his own account.

    one more idea

    Michael Kerr

    In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves--that are less hierarchical and more innovative--people tend..."

    Michael Kerr

    Why humor is a key to success at work

    • People will enjoy working with you.
    • Humor is a potent stress buster.
    • It is humanizing.
    • It puts others at ease.
    • Ha + ha = aha!  Humor is a key ingredient in creative thinking.
    • It helps build trust.
    • It boosts morale.
    • People who use humor tend to be more approachable.
    • Humor can allow your company to stand out.
    • It can increase productivity.