Definition of Silly

Definition of Silly

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? Yes. No. Ummm…

With the definition provided by Google (define silly), I’d rather like to say no. Being labeled a "fool" is not something anyone wants. But acting "foolish"? Good and Plenty. And moar please.

Being Silly

If you know me personally, you’ll most likely agree with this statement: "Craig Kiessling can be a silly guy."

There is most definitely a serious side to me, but then there is also this clown character.

I love to watch practical joke clips on YouTube. I love to read, hear and tell jokes. Comedy flicks crack me up. Teaching seriously-intense Northern Shaolin Kung Fu classes, I’ll inject a bit of humor to lighten the load. Mahjong games are full of my odd quips. And if you’ve ever heard me on our podcast, Hiyaa…well, nuff said on that.

Humor as a Defense Mechanism

Craig Kiessling with Daughter Athens, GA

Childhood was a dramatic time for me so I guess I can agree with the head doctors’ view on Humor as a Defense Mechanism.

Divine Caroline (okay, I admit I simply searched Google for "Humor Defense Mechanism" and this page seemed appropriate) classifies Humor as a Mature defense mechanism and has this to say about it:

There are some defense mechanisms that indicate overall mental health and maturity. What makes them unique is the fact that people deliberately choose these methods of handling stress, rather than allowing their mind to react unconsciously.

Humor can be a defense mechanism, too. Making people laugh can be a way to lighten and defuse a tense or sad situation. Pointing out absurdities or making jokes is a mature and healthy way to ease tension, so there’s no need to feel bad the next time you feel the urge to crack a joke at an inappropriate time. If you’re driving in a funeral procession, pointing out a hilarious road sign can lighten everyone’s mood.


(Defense Mechanisms: What’s Normal and What’s Nuts [Article Removed])

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, yeah, I’d have to say I am.

Humor and Teaching

Regarding this topic, I’d like to introduce you to the beginning lines of "Pedagogical Effect of Humor on Teaching", written by Said Shiyab, of United Arab Emirates University:

Humor is a social phenomenon and a form of communication that should not be disregarded in any learning or teaching environment. It plays a fundamental role in creating harmony and cohesion between students and teachers. The significant role humor plays stems from the fact that humor is conducive to the learning process and intercultural awareness.

In an article entitled "Transforming Thought: the Role of Humor in Teaching", Brunner (2002) shows how humor can change the way individuals think about problems and situations. The new way in which individuals view problems and situations is called the chemical element that transforms the individual’s mood (Lin Yutang 1976). Yutang suggests that the effect of such transformation is that of a catalyst, or may even be silent but inevitable and dramatic. This, according to Brunner (2002), belongs to the teaching toolkit, and it should be used by teachers most of the time. Brunner believes that the substance of what most teachers have to teach is problematic and is not funny, but in order for humor to be effective, it must rely heavily on delivery. Although teachers have not learned this kind of delivery in school nor was it part of their professional training, Brunner still believes that great teachers display the ability to use humor effectively for the purpose of learning.

While humor has good advantages in teaching, there is a dangerous side to it. In an article entitled "Humor as a Double-Edged Sword: Four Functions of Humor", Meyer (2000) rightly asserts that while humor use unites communicators through mutual identification and clarification of positions and values, it divides them through enforcement of norms and differentiation of acceptable versus unacceptable behavior of people. This paradox in the function of humor in communication, Meyer argues, functions as a unifier and divider, allowing humor use to define social boundaries.

Craig Kiessling teaching Northern Shaolin Kung Fu weapons


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To add some punch to his paper, Said conducted a study.

In order to achieve the objectives set out at the beginning of this study, questionnaires were distributed to students in four separate courses within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the United Arab Emirates University.

These courses were Business Correspondence and Promotional Material, Basic Issues in Translation, Introduction to Linguistics, and Introduction to Language and Communication. Students spanned from different academic disciplines: Education,English Literature, and Translation Studies.


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Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that the results were as expected – students felt humor in learning is a good thing. I suggest you visit the paper, scroll down and look at the actual results; it’s pretty interesting to say the least.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, yeah, I’d have to say I am.

Humor in the Workplace

Oddly enough, as silly as Craig Kiessling is, and as much humor that I like to inject into things, I’ve only recently began to inject it into the workplace.

From Eric J. Romero and Kevin W. Cruthirds ‘ "The Use of Humor in the Workplace":

Humor is a common element of human interaction and therefore has an impact on work groups and organizations. Despite this observation, managers often fail to take humor seriously or realize its numerous benefits. Humor is more than just funny concepts; it represents a multifunctional management tool that can be used to achieve many objectives.

[This article describes] how managers can use humor to reduce stress and enhance leadership, group cohesiveness, communication, creativity, and organizational culture. Specifically, we suggest humor styles that are best suited to realize these outcomes.

At the Taste of Chamblee event, after a Kung Fu performance

Additionally, the effect of humor on organizational outcomes is moderated by individual differences such as ethnicity and gender. Much like selecting the proper tool from a toolkit, managers can select the appropriate humor style suitable for the desired organizational outcome, adjust for individual differences, and achieve positive organizational outcomes


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The reason I’ve only recently begun to inject humor into the workplace can be fairly obvious: it’s a delicate dance; you can’t just willy-nilly crack jokes, silliness or humor – it must be relevant and appropriate. You need to know if your coworkers, boss, etc. will enjoy it ahead of time. And you need to know what is funny and what is not in this context.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, no. But I am trying to learn how to better inject humor intelligently into the workplace.

Humor in the Home

Holiday Fun with my Daughter - 2012

I have a three year old little girl and she is definitely the firelight of my world.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, yeah, I most definitely am.

I’m watching her sense of humor mature, grow and evolve and it’s a wonderful thing.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly?

Hell Yes I am!

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