Humor is essential to the survival of any creative working in the corporate world. Without it, we’d lose our perspective, resilience and ability to take punishing challenges in stride. But humor can be a prickly thing. It often depends on context.
I recently discovered how true this is when I posted an Inanity Incorporated piece which I thought was funny, knowing the context, but which I quickly found out was just plain confusing to others based on some conscientious readers who responded to the post.
It’s important to understand who will get the joke about HR, Facilities or unruly clients and who won’t. Share your gallows humor with the team but know that others might not find your quips that funny and choose your audience accordingly. Most importantly, know that there’s no place for mean-spirited malicious take-downs – even if it only occurs within the confines of the group. Not only does this put you at risk of offending your peers in other departments and getting called out on the carpet by HR, it also subtly destroys team morale and affords excuses to less seasoned staff to act inappropriately and passive-aggressively.
One last note – what may be a cynical remark to one person is a way to let off steam for another so it helps to be tolerant of your coworkers’ humor that helps them process a difficult situation.
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