Even as the modern world is running after countless gadgets to stay away from stress and strain, the growing band of counselors are busy providing solutions towards happy life, the significance of humor holds on its top position as a remedy of all such problems, let alone being instrumental in enhancing interpersonal communication or enlivening a collective atmosphere. These invaluable qualities of humor has made it an important tool for the organizations towards enhancing the productivity and a happy ambience.
However, there is no dearth of the supporters of the opposite school, which believes that workplace humor is a bane to productivity.
This essay thus probes a few nuances of Workplace Humor (WHS), before reaching to a conclusion based on discussion. 2. WHERE IT COMES FROM? The core of humor forms with human desire to escape from monotony, which becomes evident, when something out of proportion generates fun amongst them. This implies human cravings to find things in another form which would not be harmful, and instead, would turn out as something interesting.
Humor is the process which facilitates this tendency. The above idea explains the significance of humor at workplace, because it is something which can work both ways – either enlivening the working conditions or distracting the process of production. A great deal of research has been continuing regarding its cause and effect since ages, where one finds even great philosophers taking stance on opposite poles – just like Plato going against ‘workplace humor’ and Aristotle going for it in full throttle! 3.
In his article, ‘Managing Humor’, David Collinson comes up with quite a few contrasting ideas, where one finds how jocularity was considered both as a pervasive and an essential feature in the workplace. This speaks of the ambiguity of the subject itself – as Collinson himself could not escape the significance of both the ideas on humor. One cannot ignore the importance of deploying humor to ease the workplace environment and enhancing interpersonal communication or paving the way for the workers to release their pressures involved at work.
On the other hand, the article puts up the instance of ‘culture jammers’, who used humor as a weapon of resistance by using parodies on management, which were packed by cynicism, alienation and disenchantment. There are instances where even postmodernism had made humor as the undercover agent of their protests. This exposes the potential of humor as weapon. However, this also points at the importance of specifying a guideline on what should be marked as humor and what is not.
Yet, this is a task that remained undone through ages, because there cannot be any specific, doctored guideline of humor; what is used as a weapon at one workplace, might serve just as a means of pastime at another workplace. Collinson brings forth ‘functionalism’, another important philosophical idea that corroborates the utility value of humor, where one can create an escape route for social tensions through humor, while citing the criticism against it as well – which points at the possible problems that a ‘joking relative’ can create through humor.
This also has meat in its argument; because, though a joke should not be thrown and taken in seriously, there cannot be any yardstick of harmlessness, by which one could filter his/her joke. Collinson points at another situation that speaks of ‘radical functionalism’, when it works as a safety-valve by giving vent to the pent-up discontent of someone or a group. This also has a merit of its own, especially when the canvas of operation is larger than ordinary. On the other hand, there are examples of extreme stances taken against humor as well – where it was totally banned, and carried severe punishment with its violation. Alas!
This also had faced opposition from other institutions, like medieval Catholicism, which took a middle-of-the-road policy to admit both humor and seriousness in the practice. In the modern day situations, where one experiences flurry of jokes through every possible medium, the debate on its positive and negative side of workplace humor stands just where it has been for years, where one group of organizations advocating in favor of workplace humor to ease the stress and increase the productivity, while the its counterpart is stressing on developing pure work ethics that would solely focused on the development of the organization.
4. CONCLUSION Collinson’s article serves as a great eye opener for someone who wants to analyze humor. Accordingly it clearly shows that humor is a broad based concept and can change its colors in the hands of its applicators. An applicator is essentially a communicator, who delivers his/her message to get a desired feedback. In that perspective humor is just another medium of message; where it can turn out as a ‘healthy insanity’, or a ‘poisoned arrow’.
This is evident in the examples cited above, where under different social situations the applicators either converted humor as a weapon or used as a window to breathe fresh air. Thus, this essay concludes with the opinion that the merit and demerit of workplace humor would remain constant, while catering to the wills of its users. Accordingly, humor in modern world would continue to pose as a chameleon to beguile us on and on, much like earlier times. Ends
REFERENCES Collinson, D. L. 2002. “Managing Humour”. Journal of Management Studies, 39:3 “Definitions of Humor”. Web Article. 10 Nov. 2007, from http://humormatters. com/definiti. htm Granirer, D. “Welcome to the New Reality: Navigating the Quagmire of Humor and Political Correctness”. Web Article. 10 Nov. 2007, from http://www. granirer. com/ART-0001. htm Sultanoff, S. M. “Humor Matters”. Web Article. 10 Nov. 2007, from .