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Humour is something that exists in most workplaces to some degree and while it forms part of everyone’s overall interpersonal skills, it needs to be controlled. That’s what we look at in this blog, as we analyse its effect in the workplace, as well as the right and wrong way to use it.

Why do people at work joke around so much? 

There are many reasons, some good, some bad. Often, it’s to provide levity when things are too serious or even to pass the time when things are a little slow. Knowing the appropriate time to engage in a little humour is an important part of anyone’s personal development and ability to work as a team.

How do you use humour to defuse tension at work? 

The important thing to mention at this point is that a well-timed spot of hilarity can be used to diffuse tension, so long as no one gets upset and professionalism is maintained. We’ll look at that in a moment, but let’s first take a look at the positive impact humour can have at work. 

According to a study carried out by the Journal of Managerial Psychology, there are many benefits associated with laughter at work and they include:

  • A reduction in stress levels
  • A lighter mood in the workplace
  • Enhanced bonding and belonging
  • Improved mental health
  • Better work cohesion

It would certainly be true to say that having a good sense of humour is important to a person’s ability to fit into a team or wider company culture. The trick, however, is to ensure that this hilarity does not affect any team member adversely.

The Good…And Bad Humour That Exists

While humour is usually a positive part of anyone’s interpersonal skills, not all forms will have the positive effects mentioned in the previous section. We’ll illustrate this now, by taking a glance at the different types of humour that exist.

  1. Social/Inclusive Humour - often taking the form of a joke or a funny story, social or inclusive humour is most often light-hearted and helps to create a happy mood. This is a good type of humour to get involved in - at the right time, of course.
  2. Self-deprecating Humour - another way in which people are humorous in the workplace is in a self-deprecating way - basically, putting themselves down in a funny way. Again, it hurts no one, so it can be a positive influence.
  3. Aggressive Humour - our last type of humour is not nearly as nice as the other two, as it typically relies on humiliating or putting down others. While it too is often light-hearted, it can turn into bullying and victimisation, which is no good for anyone or the company.

When engaging in humour at work, you have to use the adage “treat others as you’d expect to be treated” and if you’re unsure about how someone might take a joke, it’s perhaps best avoided. When people start becoming upset or productivity is impacted, it’s time to stop.

Work On Your Soft Skills With Video-Based Short Courses  

Humour can be one of the most positive and uplifting interpersonal skills a person can have, but evidently, it needs to remain light-hearted and not cause offence. That said, if you feel your soft skills need attention, it’s easier and more convenient than ever to work on them, thanks to CPD-endorsed video-based short interpersonal courses from OCA.

Our supported online learning comes with 1-to-1 mentoring support 7 days a week and each module is super easy to digest and fits around your current obligations. To find out more about us, please visit us today at or to see what learning with us is really like, take a look at our impressive Student Study Demo that tells you everything you need to know. 

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to us about your personal training needs, give us a call on 1300 611 404 and we’ll be delighted to give you the answers you need.

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