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Humor In Management Essay

4061 words - 17 pages

David Gogichaishvili
Graduate Student, School of Telecommunications, Ohio University
Independent Study with WILL HOYT on “Humor in Management”
Spring 2002


This literature review on humor in management explores the issues of effectiveness of humor in the workplace. The primary focus is in management processes. Humorous managers are more effective, so to say. But there are some techniques and tips for turning your humor into managerial success. Not every type of humor can be appropriate.

The “What” section of this study deals with a general background about humor. Questions like why we should use humor, whether we should use it at all, etc. will be answered in the ...view middle of the document...

..” Certainly not. The goal is to turn into a manager we all would like to work for, the one that sees victory when everyone else sees only defeat; the one wise enough to know that we learn so much more from our human failures than from our public successes. The following is a perfect example: A newly hired sales representative lost a $5 million dollar account! The following morning he walked into his boss’ office with a plain white envelope. The boss looked at the envelope and said: “What’s this?” The young man said: “It’s my resignation; I wanted to save you the stress of having to fire me”. “Fire you?” said the boss, “we just spent $5 million training you!” This story, true by the way, clearly shows the attitude we’re going for here – a perfect example of a sense of humor.

A true sense of humor – that sense of irony, that wisdom to recognize the insane in the presence of apparent reason, that ability to really let go and laugh hysterically – is uniquely human. Man is the only animal who can laugh, perhaps because he is also the only animal that is aware of his mortality. Now, there might be many people arguing that other animals laugh too. I would reply that my dog, for example, has a wicked sense of humor; but to my knowledge, has never actually laughed, at least not out loud. Also, I would warn scientists, who insist that apes, chimps, and gorillas have been known to cut up when exposed to pleasant physical stimuli, that tickling a lowland gorilla to watch him chuckle is NOT advisable pending further research!

Let us all agree that the man is the only animal who can laugh. It is therefore imperative that encouraging frequent laughter, primarily at one’s own expense, can be the most humanizing thing any of us ever do in the workplace.

The expression “laughter is the best medicine” has a genuine basis. Medical experts tell us that hearty laughter can stimulate and intensify the activity of catecholamines -- hormones which cause the body’s own painkilling endorphins to be released into the bloodstream. Laughter lowers the blood pressure, relieves tension, improves blood flow, and eases ailments of the digestive and intestinal tracts.

Before we go to “why” and “how” sections, it would be beneficial if we know some more statistics about humor. Qualities of a good mother? 61% say a sense of humor; most important quality in a spouse or significant other? Sense of humor was listed second; 61% of men and 57% of women laugh at least once an hour at work; do we work with fun people? 81% say yes; in our homes, do we share jokes or make each other laugh? 81% say often or very often; And before the election a sample of 1303 adults were asked which presidential candidate they thought had a better sense of humor—34% said Al Gore, 48% said George W. Bush.

Also, talking about humor, it is interesting to know a standard dictionary definition of it: “that quality in a happening, an action, a situation, or an expression of ideas which...

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