Weaving humor into your employee communications is often overlooked, but can have profound benefits in helping you connect with your audience. Humor has that “attention-getting” quality that most workplace communications is looking for. In fact, research shows humor in communication can create an open atmosphere by awakening positive emotions that enhance listening, understanding, and acceptance of messages.
However, you’ll want to ensure you’re using the right humor styles for your employee communications, so you win over your audience, and don’t alienate it. There are four recognized humor styles. Here’s a look at each:
Good Humor Styles – these are the two styles we recommend you use for your employee communications:
1. Affiliative humor may include telling jokes that everyone would find funny or engaging in witty banter. This type of humor may be used to improve your relationships with others, including increasing group cohesiveness. It may also enhance learning. The goal of this type of humor is to create a sense of fellowship, happiness, and wellbeing. Jokes about animals or everyday happenings fall into this category.
2. Self-enhancing humor looks at “bright side of things” even if your first instinct is to take a “whoa is me” attitude. It can be used to diffuse a difficult or tense situation and add a positive spin on things. This humor may promote creativity, reduce stress, and help to change people’s perceptions of negative situations.
This humor style involves being able to laugh at yourself when something bad or unplanned happens. This is the humor delivery method that the former Daily Show host Jon Stewart used often… and successfully. He was fond of saying things like, “Maybe I just don’t understand…” or “I’m not the brightest guy…”
Not-So-Good Humor Styles – we do not recommend these humor styles for employee communications:
3. Self-defeating humor is making yourself the “butt” of the joke or putting yourself down in a “poor me” style. You may use it when you want to gain approval from others, but be cautious. If you put yourself down too often, people may question your self-esteem and feel sorry for you instead of laugh. Also, be aware of others who may use it. Sometimes, targets of bullying use it to try to avoid bullying attacks. People may put themselves down before others can. If you notice this type of humor going on, you may want to bring it to a supervisor’s attention.
4. Aggressive humor involves using sarcasm, put-downs, teasing, criticism, and ridicule of others. This type of humor should NOT be used in the workplace because it often comes across as bringing others down and creating divisiveness. This is humor that bullies often use.
So, what does appropriate humor look like? Here’s an example from our award-winning Life is a Journey™ poster line.
Also check out this FREE white paper, “Why Humor Works in Workplace Wellness Communications.” And this article, “Give Your Employees a Healthy Dose of Humor in Your Wellness Communications.”
This is the second in a three-blog series about humor in the workplace. Be sure to check back for the next blog, appearing next month. The next blog will provide even more ideas on how to add humor to your workplace culture.
If you missed the first blog, “3 ways to embrace your inner comedian to engage employees and improve your workplace culture,” be sure to give it a read.