What are you laughing at? And why?

Photo courtesy of FLickr user  Kathleen Tyler Conklin

Photo courtesy of FLickr user Kathleen Tyler Conklin

Alexander decorated his office with pictures of the Partridge TV family’s children Cindy, Brady and Danny Partridge, insisting they were his children. Patrick seemed to develop an unnatural fear of office staplers. At a staff meeting, Robin bent under the conference table for a moment and re-emerged wearing contact lenses that whited out her eyes.

Actually, none of that happened; the “jokes” all are merely suggestions on a website condoning adding a little laughter into the workplace. However, I personally think all of those behaviors would be funny to witness, and even refreshing. What say you – funny, nuts or annoying?

What sort of humor appeals to you? Now you can take a quiz developed by psychologist Rod Martin and colleagues to discover your own “humor style” from the four recognized subsets:

  1. Affiliative humor
    This is a bonding type of humor meant to share harmless observations that most people would find funny. Inviting your colleagues to participate in a little synchronized chair dancing would be an example of this. Funny cat videos (in which no cats are hurt) also are examples of affiliative humor. The goal is to share fellowship and a sense of well-being.

  3. Aggressive humor
    Personally speaking, put-downs or insults targeted toward others isn’t at all funny to me. People who like Don Rickles’ jokes or the late Joan Rivers’ bits enjoy aggressive humor. Bullying or psychologically harming other people – or making other groups the target of a hateful comment as a “joke” – is the core idea. Is that funny? On the other hand, dark humor makes me laugh, such as the idea of John using a hunting knife instead of a laser pointer to refer to a PowerPoint slide…. So I don’t take a politically-correct approach to humor; I just prefer a different style of aggression.

  5. Ironic humor
    This is being able to make a joke about the crazy things you see happening in everyday life and it’s a way to cope with stress or incongruities. SNL’s Jack Handley’s Deep Thoughts was my hands-down favorite comic bit, with jewels like: “The wise man can pick up a grain of sand and envision a whole universe. But the stupid man will just lay down on some seaweed and roll around in it until he’s completely draped in it. Then he’ll stand up and go hey, I’m Vine Man.” So I think the dude hanging up the Partridge family photos in his cubicle, and the worker with the pretend fear of staplers, both have a “good” sense of humor.

  7. Self-demoralizing humor
    The late Rodney Dangerfield was the poster child for this type of humor, as he often invited others to join him in his pity party, and some of his jokes were very self-deprecating. I am also a fan of Amy Schumer, who is a wizard with this form of humor, so obviously I think jokes that maim self (versus others) is a higher level of humor.

We judge other people’s sense of humor all the time, assigning these rankings: “good” (in synch with ours); “dumb” (the punch line is usually obvious) or “stupid” (who would even laugh at that? – or it makes us feel stupid because we don’t quite grasp the punch line). There’s no accounting for taste, obviously, but there is a psychological leaning toward and away from certain forms of “humor”.

What’s your favorite flavor, what does it expose about you, and how does it play in your workplace?

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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