When’s the last time you had a good laugh at work?
If you can’t remember, then you’re seriously not alone.
We’re in in the midst of a laughter drought, according to MBA candidate Eric Tsytsylin.
Data backs that up:
While babies laugh about 400 times each day,
adults over 35 years of age laugh only about 15 times each day.
At the workplace, there’s a lot less laughter.
Gallup research notes people laugh a great deal less during the week than weekends.
We Need Laughter for a Happy Life
Laughter is indeed serious business for living a happy life. Adding in lightness, fun and humor to our work and life adds connection and a new perspective.
Research from Northwestern University discovered laughing boosts your mood and can promote innovation and beneficial brainstorming, help employees work better and increase overall satisfaction on the job.
So, let’s start laughing at the workplace!
“If you can learn the humor of a people and really control it, you know that you are also in control of nearly everything else.”
-Peter McGraw (author of The Humor Code and a marketing and psychology professor at the University of Colorado Boulder) and Joel Warner (a journalist) citing anthropologist Edward Hall
Laughter: The Best Medicine
Seems as we grow up, we take life a lot too seriously. But why? A good, deep, belly laugh, when your lips nearly crack from smiling and your eyes tear up, is like a heaping spoonful of wonderfully natural medicine.
Loma Linda University Associate Professor Dr. Lee Berk has researched laughing for nearly 30 years. A Time article by Markham Heid highlights what Berk has discovered about laughter.
- triggers production of feel-good chemicals in our bodies
- inhibits the release of stress hormones
- works to lower inflammation
- improves blood flow
In an HBR article, Leading With Humor, Alison Beard writes that laughter in the workplace:
- relieves boredom and stress
- encourages creativity and working together
Here’s something of interest: laughter also increased employee productivity by 10% after watching a comedy clip versus their counterparts who did not.
The Magic of Humor Has Wide-Reaching Benefits
In The New York Times, Senior Editor Corinne Purtill cited a striking example of just how much infusing laughter into a presentation can improve the audience’s attention – and retention.
Behavioral scientist Jennifer Aaker wanted to see how adding humor to an otherwise ho-hum lecture would affect the audience.
It proved to be a memorable presentation.
She asked media and strategy consultant Naomi Bagdonas to give a guest lecture. The audience was unaware that in addition to her consulting credentials and working on her MBA, Bagdonas did evening gigs performing improv at comedy clubs.
While her lecture explained the use of stories in conjunction with data, neurochemistry, and factor analysis – bland, humdrum stuff by most people’s standards – Bagdonas’ comic delivery had students laughing to tears – and remarkably recalling her points more accurately than most other guest speakers.
As a result, Aaker and Bagdonas instruct a course at Stanford, “Humor: Serious Business.” The two teach that it’s not about joke telling – it’s about cultivating joy. And while one must be careful in dispensing humor so as not to be offensive to others, an authentic leader who expresses empathy and emphasizes inclusion can also add humor to inspire trust in the workplace.
In her HBR article, Beard noted a few highlights of infusing humor:
- Be honest and authentic in your humor
- Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself – it indicates things are alright
- Laughter puts people at ease, so go ahead and poke fun about the things everyone is stressed over
And in today’s tumultuous world, a little humor can go a long way.
I always give 100% at Work: 10% Monday, 23% Tuesday, 40% Wednesday, 22% Thursday, and 5% Friday.
Let Go. Laugh a Little. And Then Some More 🙂
Writing in Forbes, Jacquelyn Smith offers up why humor can be the key to success at the workplace:
- It puts people at ease
- It can reduce stress
- Helps spur creative thinking
- Aids in building trust
- Can boost morale and lessen employee turnover
She notes, however, that not all workplaces encourage humor. International business speaker Michael Kerr writes that it depends on the atmosphere of the office. Less structured environments, where employees can be themselves, tend to express their humor more openly.
Some employees, Kerr explains, purposely tone down their humor, to be taken more seriously. “Yet, this can backfire as people who take themselves overly seriously are often, ironically, taken less seriously by the people around them,” states Kerr.
Humor Has the Power to Add Lightness to Any Workplace
Recently the national media had fun with the “cat” attorney Rod Ponton, who signed into Zoom for a court hearing. Because of a Zoom filter, however, the judge wasn’t looking at Ponton, but instead, a talking white kitten.
Ponton attempted to remove the cat photo. So did his assistant. “I don’t know how to remove it,” he admits in the video. “I’ve got my assistant here and she’s trying to remove it but uh…I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”
About 20 seconds later, the kitten transformed into Ponton, who admits he – and many others – had a good laugh about it.
A little humor adds some lightness to our lives, when we’re so pandemic weary, longing for our old routines, and uncertain of what the future holds.
And for authentic leaders, incorporating humor into the workplace is like putting the cherry on the chocolate ice cream sundae.
“Sometimes I spend the whole meeting wondering how they got the big meeting table through the door.” – Greeting Card Poet
Hope that got you laughing!
Want to expand your leadership experience with simple, thought-provoking inspiration? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Moves.
Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As the Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International (ALI) & a Women’s Leadership Coach, my highest intention in the business realm is to help women in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.