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Overcome Cultural and Linguistic Barriers. Improve Effectiveness 

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thumb_Laughterand-Leadership1_1024We all know that humor is good for you. Lighthearted laughter will regulate one’s blood pressure, accelerate recovery from illness, and decrease stress in the workplace. In other words, laughter can be good medicine.  [pullquote] How people perceive humor is culture specific [/pullquote]

It’s true that all cultures enjoy humor and laughter, but how people perceive humor is culture specific. With increasing cultural diversity in the workplace, we need to keep in mind that humor is meant to be funny, not insulting. What perceived as funny in one culture might not be understood or might even be insulting in another. Some cultures use sarcastic or put-down humor in conversations so as to tease each other. Other cultures do not use sarcastic humor and find this type of humor offensive. Often, in a diverse gathering an inappropriate joke may misfire. So I do not recommend poke fun at other groups and individuals in professional and business gatherings (and in personal life as well!).

How to determine what kind of humor is appropriate? [pullquote] I recently met a manager who was demoted for repeatedly ridiculing an employee’s accent. As you can see, sometimes “humor” is no funny business! [/pullquote]

1. If you want some fun, have it at your own expense – the safest type of humor is self-depreciating humor.
2. Do not tell jokes related to physical appearance like a person’s height, weight, or the size of their nose and the like.
3. Keep in mind that humor does not translate well because very often it is based on word plays or puns, and these do not translate easily into another language.
4. Do not tell political, religious, ethnic, racial jokes other jokes that ridicule peoples’ beliefs or affiliations or even accents. In one organization, I recently met a manager who was demoted for repeatedly ridiculing an employee’s accent. As you can see, sometimes “humor” is no funny business!

So, know what, when, where, who, and how to kid around appropriately in the workplace.

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tn[2] (2)**Dr. Nara Venditti is the owner of Succeed In America specializing in business communication skills for foreign-born professionals and cross-cultural communication in the workplace. She is passionate about cross-cultural understanding and helping non-native speakers of English succeed in the American workplace. She speaks  and writes on Business English and communication across languages and cultural divides. She is  the author of numerous articles and books on the topics available on SucceedinAmerica  and  on  Amazon