When I first entered the hallowed corridors of corporate work life with Cadbury’s and then Express Dairy Foods, there wasn’t a lot of laughing in those corridors. There seemed to be an invisible sign that read ‘No to Laugh in Work’.
In fact on the odd occasion you did hear laughter, many frowned and shunned those doing the laughing rather than joining in. And that’s hard to do!
Then I joined Coca-Cola and worked for a zany and humorous knock off of John Cleese. Ben was very funny. He did the famous John Cleese silly walks and often would randomly imitate a dog bark in restaurants or other crowded places resulting in people looking all around them for this fictitious dog. Suddenly laughing was OK at the work place.
In fact with Ben around, apart from the odd temper tantrums he had, it was more difficult not to laugh at his humor and antics. But it took a while for me to get used too. The corridors were not quite so hallowed anymore and I almost felt like a naughty schoolboy when we laughed out loud.
Ben was also a great practical joker, and like his dog effects, he would create humor from any opportunity. What I realized was that people wanted to be around Ben. He was fun and I was so serious. We used to be called Batman and Robin.
I did often feel somewhat like his straight man. But I must have had some latent humor trigger because I started to use some. And it felt good. I could laugh in work.
As I started to find my own humor and use it in the office and with customers and our bottlers, I found that when people laughed with me, it helped get focus and seemed to generate more ideas. Relaxed conversation always helps generate better ideas. Here’s reasons why you should laugh in work…
1. Laughter creates a motivated and happy team.
Teams are built by doing things together successfully and there’s very few things that can beat laughter by sharing a joke, a story or humorous spontaneity. It’s contagious and used effectively, it can help build a fun culture where the team can blossom together.
When I worked in Germany I ran a workshop and just before doing so I had read a book called ‘”Managing to Have Fun” by Matt Weinstein. One of the ideas in the book was that every one brought in a picture of them either as a baby or very young. They gave them to me and I pinned them on a board prior to the first session. I covered each one and then revealed them in turn and everyone got a guess as who it was. We kept a board and then revealed who they were and added up the points. It was a great success and caused huge amounts of shared and spontaneous laughter.
2. Laughter provides relief
There are times in all meetings when things are not good. Realities are being put on the table about performance and tough decisions are going to have to be made. Laughter can lighten the mood of the room and help push the reset button and for everyone to relax and refocus.
3. Laughter helps with confrontation
I recently wrote an article on why confrontation can be good. However, confrontation can be tough and laughter can deflect the difficult questions and provide you with time to collect your thoughts and be open with your approach.
4. Laughter helps build relationships
Laughing provides common ground, shared enjoyment and release and can form a togetherness that certainly builds empathy and therefore relationships.
5. Laughter in work is healthy for you
There actually is some truth to the old saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California discovered that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and boosts immune function. So it really can ease the pain.
6. Laughter generates innovation
Because laugher relaxes us, and refocuses us, it can help widen our thought pattern and innovative thinking. Laughter is also optimal for learning.
I’d be interested in any laughter thoughts you may have and what has worked for you or any of your teams. Please share below…and laugh!
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