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Humorous Interactions in Work Settings Published: Thursday, October 28, 1999 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Humor is a form of communication highly needed in work settings. There is always a need for laughter and comedy. It is well understood that he or she that laughs lasts. Humor has been described as a pleasure upon which human beings pounce at the slightest excuse for indulging in it. No one denies its value these days. It is part of our coping tools in time of stress, danger and death. Yet, despite our recognition of its value, organizations do not take humor seriously. In an overlegalized working environment, organizations seem afraid to look at humor, to analyze it, and to make conscious, deliberate use of this psychological and cultural device of communication, specially for managing and intervening the stress of daily work and living.

Even though organizations and their managers take workshops on humor, when is working time they allow humor to happen by chance. Thus, we make strong point for planning the use of humor. As a matter of fact, at QBS we start and end our meetings with "formal" sessions of joking. In that sense, the time is ripe for professionals to do more than just enjoy humor. It is important to understand its developmental nature. We will grow if we understand the need to be able to laugh at ourselves, at life and at our establishments. We need to help workers, employees and professionals to deal with their stresses, tensions, conflicts and frustrations through the use of humor. Humor can be healthy and constructive, and organizations should use it as useful coping mechanisms and as a viable tool for improving communications.

Within the humanistic framework of openness and empathy, humor is a natural phenomenon. A human being`s self-concept develops, as he or she becomes more tolerant and more understanding of himself or herself and of others. The more one is able to laugh at oneself and at one`s imperfections, the more the capacity to share this common bond with others.

Humor is a common behavior at work settings, it is a way of life in our society that permeates every aspect of our existence at home, at work, at play, in the street, the office, the factory, the prison, the hospital, the classroom and even the funeral home. It may range from a smile, simple pleasantry to a joke telling, slapstick session and organizational comedy, and it is always there. It was Freud`s basic concept that joking relieves repressed impulses and anxieties, and that laughter converts the unpleasant feelings to pleasant ones.

The fun human beings in sensitive communion can generate between themselves is what it all comes down to. We make ourselves happy by making each other happy. The reverse is also true. We are all so capable of making each other miserable that the telling of jokes or the communication of humor in general seems an indispensable balance in the seesaw of human relations. After all, like someone said, "life without laughter is not worth living".


Copyright 1999 QBS, Inc.
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