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Effects of humour depends upon boss-employee relationship

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Washington DC : A new study has revealed that when relationships at the place of work are good, both positive and negative humour by leaders can improve employee’s job satisfaction.

Robert J. Trulaske of the University Of Missouri-Columbia found the effects of humor depend on the relationship between leaders and subordinates. He said that both positive and negative humor used by leaders was positively related to their subordinates’ job satisfaction when the relationship between the leader and subordinates was good. In the study, researchers developed two sets of matched questionnaires, one for leaders and one for their subordinates. They analysed responses from about 70 leaders and their 241 subordinates in 54 organizations.

Robert said that these findings suggested that if leaders wished to integrate humour into their interactions with subordinates, they should first assess whether or not their subordinates were likely to interpret their humorous overtures positively, adding that if a good relationship between the leader and the subordinate existed, then humor, be it positive or negative in tone, would only help to maintain the good relationship. He also suggested that these results have implications for leaders’ strategic use of humor.


Robert concluded that instead of using humor to build relationships, leaders should work to build strong relationships through other means such as through clear communication, fair treatment, and providing clear and useful feedback. Humor then can be used to maintain those strong relationships. The study is published in the Journal Group and Organization Management.

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