To Laugh or Not to Laugh? That is the Question
by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
It is common knowledge that humour is good for us. It can go a long way to reduce stress and lighten up a difficult situation. Laughing can help employees connect with one another and also helps them be more in the present moment. Sometimes a joke can completely change the outcome of a situation. The old adage “Laughter is the Best Medicine” is still true today.
Often, though we may not think of funny and leadership in the same sentences. After all running a company can be very serious business. Effective leaders know how to use humour to set the tone and send the powerful message that “work can be fun.” There is however a time and place and of course any jokes should be office appropriate. Sometimes we can all get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget to take time to laugh. Ask yourself
- When was the last time I had a good laugh with my co-workers?
- If you are a leader, what can you do to lighten things up once in a while?
- On a scale between 1 – 10 (with 1 been deadpan boring and 10 being off the charts hilarious), how would you rate your company/department on a “fun place to work scale?” If you are not sure look around, what do you see, are people serious all the time or do you see people smiling and enjoying working together.
I have worked with a lot of organizations that have lost the “sense of play” due the serious nature of their business and difficult economic situations. Those who have recognized the negative impact have taken steps to shift their culture and have yielded great results. Happy employees can produce more effectively.
There are many reasons to add more humour to your day and here are my top five:
1) It can help defuse a difficult or a sensitive situation. Simply smiling and making a remark that would help those involved look at things with a little humour. Of course the comments need to be completely appropriate.
2) As a leader, being able to laugh at one self and show that you are human too can go a long way to connect with your employees. They are less likely to feel intimidated by you or your position.
3) Great teams laugh together. Encouraging fun activities both inside and outside the office can bond a team. It can greatly enhance corporate culture and create memories that the team can look back on and have a good laugh.
4) As a leader creating a culture that allows for laughter and fun in the workplace can be very motivating. Energy is higher and people are more productive when they are happy. If the opposite exists people can feel stifled and exhausted and can burn out.
5) People will remember the key points of presentations when the leader is able to share a funny story from the past. An “in the good ole days” can show progress and provide a good laugh in the process.
“A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower