A to Z of people skills – X rated

January 14th, 2013

In my experience, humour differs in many ways and I know that Women’s humour, Jewish humour, London humour, Scouse humour and Scottish humour can all be taken out of context by others and not be seen as funny. I’m not a great one for telling jokes, although I have been told I’m quite at making work-based stories into something humorous and engaging. I’m also quite good at taking the “butt” of jokes in certain circumstances and taking the mickey back, usually gently. I think I’ve learnt to understand many of the people I work with to know how  best to react to them and their humour – when to be seen to take umbrage, when to stay quiet and when to make a comment in return.

Humour and banter are a common part of any working environment, but they are not without their challenges. Many years ago I worked within a department of about 10 people, where 1 had a noticeably different sense of humour to the rest of us. We didn’t all laugh at everything, but there was a level of mickey-taking which worked for 9 of us and not for the 10th. Whilst you could argue that it was their problem, not ours, there is a risk that someone takes their objection to the point of complaint or grievance, which is something that none of us would relish. There are some people who are so concerned about making jokes that they shy away from all humour, fearing they will be seen as “politically incorrect”.

Whilst I am sure that there are many places where the humour has been pushed out so far, the enjoyment and fun are missing from everyday work. I am equally sure there are people who feel put upon by inappropriate humour and aren’t sure what to do for themselves or to manage others, before it gets to the stage of grievance or bullying?

Are there people you work with who are feeling victims of inappropriate humour and aren’t sure what to do and how to manage this? And are there some whose humour and fun are being stifled?

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