Laugh Out Loud
A User's Guide to Workplace Humor
By Barbara Plester & Kerr Inkson
27 November 2018
£17.99 | $24.99 | €20.75 | Softcover | 978-981-13-0282-4
Jokes at work can ease tension, build camaraderie and make a day more bearable, but they can also offend, exclude and harm people. In this book, Auckland academics Barbara Plester and Kerr Inkson draw on the latest research to offer advice and practical tips for managing humor at work.
Using numerous real-life (sometimes cringe-making) vignettes to unpick common scenarios, the authors develop the idea of ‘humor boundaries’ where friendly banter slips into harassment, bullying and other unwanted behavior.
In ten chapters, Plester and Inkson uncover how humor works, explain the different humor cultures in organizations, and explore the many forms of workplace humor – including their pros and cons. They touch on humor rituals at work, digital humor, workplace jokers, and specific issues arising from the concept of political correctness. The final section offers best-practice advice and take-home messages.
Laugh out Loud is a practical guide for everyone involved: the humorists (jokers), the targets (sometimes victims), the observers (audience) and most of all the managers who have to set the tone and encourage, control and manage humor. The authors argue that because of humor’s potential to create both good and harm in the workplace, it is increasingly clear that it needs to be managed, both by organizational humorists and every manager. Humor, in short, is a topic that sometimes should be taken very, very seriously!
About the Authors
Barbara Plester started studying humor in the workplace after a past boss decreed there was to be no laughing at work – too noisy, distracting, and clearly off-task. She lasted three months in a no-laughter zone before quitting and going back to university, where she gained a Masters then a PhD on humor in the workplace, and went on to publish many articles and an academic book. Her 14 years of research include spending a month each in seven companies, observing how humor was used to include and marginalize, support and take down, reinforce and subvert power. Plester’s mantra as she strives to retain her own sense of humor and fun at work and home is ‘laugh out loud’.
Kerr Inkson also suffered ‘humor repression’ at work – he was fired from a summer job at a Scottish pea cannery for joking too much. In a 55-year career he has served seven universities, five of them in New Zealand, including 25 years at The University of Auckland, where he is now an emeritus professor. As the author of more than 20 books, Inkson strongly believes that getting workplace humor right offers serious benefits for firms.
Doris Drechsler | Communications | Springer Nature