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Laugh Don't Cry

Laurie Sirois, Quality Isn’t Funny

Why didn’t we find this bug in testing? 

Without a sense of humour, hearing that kind of question repeatedly could bring people to tears. At CAST 2021 Laurie Sirois encouraged us to deploy laughter to defuse those tense situations, improve our relationships, and grow other people’s perceptions of us. As a manager in particular, lightening the mood can do wonders for a team’s morale, creativity, and sense of safety.

Care needs to be taken over the style and timing of the humour used. Sarcasm and inside jokes might work well with trusted peers but may not be appropriate when delivering feedback. Even self-deprecating  humour can make others uncomfortable in the wrong context.

Sounds challenging? Don't worry. If you’re not a natural stand-up simply smiling more frequently is a good start and it turns out that sharing surprising insights (the aha!) can be as effective as a joke (the haha!)

I have a bit of history in this area myself. At EuroSTAR 2015 I talked about how testing and joking share some significant features. For example, the punchline for a joke could be a violation of some expectation, the exposure of some ambiguity, an observation that no one else has made, or just making a surprising connection. 

Put this together with Laurie's presentation and we can wonder whether testers are especially well-suited to using humour at work.

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