Humour can make your day less stressful and the workplace more fun.
Humour at work has often been a subject of many a ‘shaking-their-heads-with-disapproval’ debates. But humour does have its benefits. As the old saying goes, laughter really is the best medicine, and that goes for everything from the common cold to the bottom line.
The biggest pollutant in today’s workplace is stress. Stress can make you sick, depressed, irritable, and unproductive.
Laughter releases endorphins that reduce stress, create a sense of wellbeing and make you feel more alert. Humour can also help you think and be more creative.
A laughter break in the midst of a crisis or a problem can rid you of negative feelings and make you look at things with a fresh perspective.
Happy workers are productive workers. So how does humour really help one’s productivity? Experts say a good sense of humour at work helps reduce stress, builds confidence and most importantly, boosts the morale of the team, which would ultimately lead to an increase in productivity.
When you try and recall the people you have worked with, you are most likely to remember the ones who had a good sense of humour.
Having a good laugh at work can do wonders for productivity in the workplace, according to a research by Nale Lehmann-Willenbock of VU University, Amsterdam and Joseph Allen of University of Omaha at Nebraska. It studied how patterns of humour in conversation predicted other types of communication, as well as team performance. It also found that good leaders were reported to use significantly more humour.
Humour can also help deal with difficult people you come across. You can also admit to your mistakes by laughing at them. Humour shows your ‘human side’ and makes you more approachable and easy to deal with.
When people laugh together a natural bond is created. When you enjoy each other’s company, it does wonders to the positivity of the team. Team members then tend to be more trusting and confident of each other. This leads to a positive and co-operative approach towards each task.
Laughter oxygenates your blood, which increases your energy levels, relaxes your muscles, and strengthens your immune system.
And here’s the best incentive ever: studies show that laughing burns calories (a hundred laughs is said to equal 10 minutes of jogging)! It gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout.
Humour also builds self-confidence, makes you less afraid to make mistakes and helps you bounce back from negative events.
It also improves communication at work. Cracking jokes at meetings may lighten the atmosphere, help you get the point across and make it easy to deal with difficult superiors.
While humour can be a great tool for improving productivity and relationships, inappropriate jokes and comments will do just the opposite. When using humour at work, it’s important to remember that what you and your friends may find funny could be insulting and offensive to others.
Remember that humour in the workplace has little to do with practical jokes. More often than not, practical jokes are not funny to people on the receiving end. In his book, Making Humour Work, psychologist and author Dr Terry L. Paulson says, “When humour is working, you laugh with people, not at them.”
If you are someone who’s never attempted any kind of humour before, or if you are not sure how your superiors will react, it’s a good idea to start small. You could begin with creating a place or a corner where people can post tasteful cartoons, jokes or goofy photos of themselves and their colleagues.
If you are unsure about a joke or idea, discuss it with a level-headed friend or mature family member before you carry it out. They may be able to help you work out what is appropriate and what isn’t.
A discussion with your boss about the benefits of laughter and how to make your work a more light-hearted place is also a good idea.
Jokes about ethnic groups and physical appearances only undermine positive fun and create a negative atmosphere.
Also, it's not okay to laugh really very loudly and all the time! It disturbs others who may not be on your wavelength. Or someone may be on the phone with a client, or someone may be focussing really hard on a task. It’s best to remember that your sense of humour and need for a laugh should not disturb your colleagues or disrupt their work.
Most importantly, learn to laugh at yourself. When we can laugh at our own idiosyncrasies, we break the monotony and also make others feel at ease about the whole situation. Remember ‘a happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.’
So it’s not so bad to ha-ha your way through a work day and laugh away the stress, as long as you remember the parameters.