By Sam Glenn, Award Winning Motivational Speaker and Author
If I spent one day in your workplace, how much laughter would I hear?
That was the question I posted on my Facebook @samglennspeaks and it went viral to over 25 million people! Everyone started tagging people they worked with, saying things like, “I am so glad we can laugh at work because without laughter, we would go crazy.”
Some people commented, “I need a new job! I only hear crickets.”
And then there were others who felt they should invest the most valuable gift they have – “TIME”– to share their not-so-uplifting opinions as to why laughter doesn’t belong in the workplace. I can only imagine they must be fun to work with – NOT! It’s not fun working with people who make long days longer, right?
So, that begs the question, does laughter or having a sense of humor really belong in the workplace? Can you be serious about your work and still enjoy a good laugh with a co-worker or a client from time to time? Is it allowed? Is it good for business? Does it help morale?
In all my research, the needle points to “YES.” Having a sense of humor and laughing in the workplace is healthy, valuable, and improves the wellness of attitudes.
In fact, the majority of the 25 million people who engaged with my post on Facebook weighed in and agreed – humor does belong in the workplace. Let’s examine a few benefits of why humor in the workplace is a good thing.
Humor is An Incredible Leadership Tool
I have had the pleasure of speaking to nearly every type of industry you can imagine over the span of 25 years, and the smartest leaders I have ever met use positive humor as a positive resource for creating a more positive workplace. Notice, I didn’t say they try to be comedians. They use a little lightheartedness to add a jolt of positivity to everyone’s day. They use humor to connect and demonstrate that they too are human.
“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership,
of getting along with others, and of getting things done.”
– D. Wight Eisenhower
I remember speaking at a recognition luncheon for Edwards Hospital in Naperville Illinois a few years ago and before I was introduced the CEO got up to and shared a few words with the audience. She took a different path and started her presentation by sharing a personal story that was hilarious. I was sitting at a table near the front and one of the people sitting next to me says mid laugh, “I just love working for her!”
The CEO used humor to bridge the heart and mind. She had everyone laughing and it was like the doors to everyone’s mind opened wide to receiving her leadership guidance.
Laughter in the Workplace Creates a Positive Perspective
Laughter allows employees to see situations in a less threatening way. A lighthearted perspective doesn’t ignore the seasons of work or daily adversity, but rather it helps us acknowledge it with a more clear frame of resilient thinking. That is what a little laughter can do – it cleanses the mental pallet so we think better, do better and live better.
Laughter in the Workplace Gets More Work Done
A study by Mark Bean and John Kounios of Northwestern University found out that people in a better mood are more likely to perform better at carrying out a task or solving a problem. The researchers played a funny video and an anxiety-inducing video for the participants and measured their work performance afterward. They discovered that the participants were able to solve more problems after the mood-lifting comedy video. (I suggest Caddyshack or Office Space).
Humor in the Workplace Is Good Medicine
It is said that laughter is the best medicine, so why not incorporate that wellness into the workplace? Don’t take my word for it, there is significant research that laughter is a strong therapy that reduces anxiety and depression. That is huge! According to Heidi Beckman Ph.D., UWHC – health Psychology: “Workplace laughter is a realistic, sustainable, and generalizable intervention that enhances employee’s morale, resilience, and personal efficacy/productivity beliefs.”
“Humor has the ability to rise above any situation,
even if only for a few seconds.”
― Viktor Emil Frankl
Laughter at Work Strengthens Relationships
When we laugh together we grow stronger together. There is a connection that is formed that makes what we do and who we do it with more enjoyable. Before I become a professional speaker, I worked the graveyard shift cleaning floors at office buildings in Chicago for little pay. It was work and I was grateful. I didn’t have a supportive boss, resources or situation, but what took the lousy out of the job was enjoying a good laugh with my co-workers. I needed those laughs. They gave me energy, made me feel better, cleared my mind and helped me look forward to something positive in a mess of not so positives.
In closing, I would like to point something out about laughter and humor in the workplace and this is really important. Laughter and humor in the workplace is not about being a comedian or something you need or should try to force. Let it come naturally. Keep it pure and positive. Nobody should ever feel hurt or belittled by it. That is not positivity in the workplace, that is reinforcing something toxic. My work is about helping people think better so they do better and live better. Laughter and having a sense of humor is by far one of my greatest finds and discoveries to creating more positive workplace. If you want to improve the power of positivity in your attitude, workplace, health and relationships, start by looking on the lighter side once and a while. Some of you may be out of practice and it may be a good time to lighten up and enjoy things a little more. One study showed that laughter and a good sense of humor actually makes you more attractive! I AGREE! If you remember anything about this article, remember one of my principle sayings,
“You will never look back on your life and wish you had laughed less. So lighten up!” – Sam Glenn
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