I’m taking a mandatory online sexual harrassment training right now and that’s one of the section titles. It made me think of a situation I found myself in at my last job.
I used to work in the Executive Office of a large non-profit here in Philly. They treated me pretty badly, giving me the most menial of tasks and generally expecting me to have the intelligence of a golden retriver.
One day, my immediate supervisor, who was the CEO’s executive assistant, came up to me and said, “Dr. X has a concern. She feels that you smile and laugh too much and it isn’t appropriate for the office environment.”
This women continued on to tell me that when the CEO walked by my desk and saw me smiling, she didn’t think I was getting any work done, so I needed to rein in my tendency to smile and laugh. In the moment, I just nodded and tried not to cry. As I repeated this story to family and friends, their reaction was resoundly flabbergasted and enraged, and I finally began to let loose my own frustration with the situation. I left that job soon after.
Humor was certainly a risky behavior in that environment, although not for the reasons that my sexual harrassment training is assuming.