Tagged: humor

Come Out at Work: With Your Humor

We recently taught a one-hour course on how to reveal and engage your whole self at work, and during the discussion about what specifically we hide from others, one participant said he hid his sense of humor.

A funny thing to hold back, true?

Most people enjoy laughing, especially at work where toiling can be so serious.  The participant offered that he’s shy with it because his sense of humor is dark.

Ah, dark humor. It’s defined by dictionary.com as “a form of humor that regards human suffering as absurd rather than pitiable, or that considers human existence as ironic and pointless but somehow comic.”

As in revealing most parts of our selves, we’re likely to attract some people and repel others by bringing a dark sense of humor to the job. Yet is there a net gain by opening up? For an answer, we look to the published research.

Sarcasm can be a form of dark humor, and a recent study by Ella Miron-Spektor in the Journal of Applied Psychology concludes that sarcasm enhances creativity at work.

How?

From the Occupational Digest of the British Psychological Society:

Sarcastic comments need to be actively made sense of, as they stand at odds with the true situation, such as giving high praise to mediocrity. Parsing such paradoxes by looking at them in different ways might kick us into a mental gear ready for complex thinking.

So you might kick-start your colleagues’ creative problem solving by showing your sarcasm on the job. Can the same be said for a generally dark sense of humor? We’d like to think so.

And is there a way not to harm anyone on the job with your biting sense of humor? Yes. As long as you’re working to bring your whole self–which includes your active listening skills and compassion for your coworkers’ feelings–you’ll remain aware should a teammate become upset by your humor.

From there, you’ll moderate your self, because you know that feeling free to exercise your whole self at work brings privileges, and responsibilities.

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Is Active Listening Overrated?

America’s Career Information Network–one of our favorite online resources, sponsored by the US Department of Labor–defines active listening as:

giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Which basically means knowing how to keep quiet and use your full wherewithal to tune-in to what somebody’s saying. This type of acute listening leads to understanding people more truly, and making clearer sense of the world around us. It seems our friends at The Onion aren’t having it, though.

The article “Open-Minded Man Grimly Realizes How Much Life He’s Wasted Listening To Bullsh`t” equates active listening with listening to garbage. And the effect of such receptiveness can amount to hours of listening to:

* grossly uninformed political opinions
* both sides of pointless arguments, and
* parents’ bullsh’t about how important it is to be open-minded.

We laughed out loud! In the end, the news piece concludes with a quotation by “the open-minded man’s” colleague. He says “[my colleague] is such a good listener. A lot of people are closed-minded and self-absorbed, but [he] always makes an effort to hear where I’m coming from. The world could use more people like him.”

Heartened, we agree that the more people exercise their inherent active listening skills, the better the workplace becomes. Hear, hear!

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