Gender Differences and Humor

5 Tips for Dealing With Gender Differences and Humor:
aka…He Laughs, She Doesn’t

The genders are never EVER going to agree on everything…including what is or is not funny. Gender differences on how to use and perceive humor can cause confusion, tension and affect productivity in the work and office environment.

Women often find things funny that men don’t understand and men often use humor in ways women don’t understand. Being informed and aware of these humor differences can help minimize misunderstandings. Here are some techniques:

1) Observe and Learn. Start observing how your male/female associates use humor with you and with each other. Do you notice any patterns?

2) Don’t try to be “One of the Boys.” Only use and invite a style of humor you are comfortable with. If you are comfortable with a more aggressive style of humor, then use it, but realize that you are setting the tone for the type of humor you can expect back. Remember being respected for your work is more important than being liked.

3) Establish Your Personal Humor Boundaries. Make your objections known to offensive humor. If your objection is stated in a non-emotional, objective, professional tone, you can state your point without offending. Better to seem a bit unfriendly and establish your boundaries, than to be repeatedly subjected to humor which offends you.

4) Use “I” messages. For example: “Frank, I don’t find blond jokes amusing.” (You can even smile while you’re saying this). This is more effective than saying, “Frank, you’re a jerk and I don’t find you or your stupid jokes amusing.”

5) Cultivate your own style of humor. Define what you think is funny and what is not. If you offend another with your humor, be quick to apologize. Then set an example for others by “walking your talk.”

TIP: If a joke is at the expense of another person or group, leave it out! Life is filled with enough good-hearted humor to skip the mean jokes.

Source: Karyn Ruth White is a Motivational Comedian, Humorist, Funny Keynote Presenter, Organizational Morale Consultant and Author. Her presentation style is high energy, clean, clever and very funny. She headlines conferences throughout the U.S. Check out her Programs at For speaking inquiries, go to or email or call 303-369-8277. For regular words of hope and humor follow her on Twitter @karynruth.