zhmort (zhmort) wrote,

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Good Humor = Bad Citizenship

Did other people have a "Citizenship" grade on their report cards in elementary school? I did. That was often one of my worst grades (though it was on the U = unsatisfactory, S = satisfactory, E = excellent system rather than A, B, C, etc.)

In 4th and 5th grades, my teachers actually added a write-in category for me under Citizenship: Classroom Conduct. It was my own special grade.

People who know me now might be surprised to learn that I received quite a number of U's in Classroom Conduct. I'm guessing it was a combination of exceeding boredom on my part, and the growing understanding that I could make friends through humor.

Humor takes time away from progress towards other goals. Busy schedules often don't have time for humor. Teachers would get annoyed, because they knew they were being derailed. I totally understand, now, why it would irritate them.

We face this in corporate meetings. People make jokes as we go along. Some people appreciate them, some people don't. Sometimes, everyone in the room seems to appreciate it. When that hapens, the meeting facilitator might be inclined to let it go on for a while, until it peters out. But then when the humor break goes on a little longer, some people who initially appreciated it stop appreciating it.

This tension between enjoying humor in a group setting vs. being irritated by it is a funny dynamic to me. I always notice it, watching both individual reactions as well as the apparent group consensus change from "this is funny" to "this is wasting time" and back again.

In my own staff meetings (my direct reports), I tend to loosen the leash. I want the message sent that I understand we have a lot to do, but that there are certain, key times for having fun and building camaraderie, and my staff meetings are those times. Derek is down with the humor. All of the funny folks on my team will be getting an "E" (for "Excellent") for the day! :-)

On an unrelated note, I'm also thinking of installing a Slip 'N Slide.


NOTE: This entry was originally posted to my zderek journal.

Tags: humor jokes citizenship grades meetings
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