By Dr. Karyn
Hello DK Leadership Community!
Are you laughing enough? Really think about it. Think about a typical day for you at the office, with your team or your clients. Now think about your personal life, at home, with your friends, spouse or kids. If you are interested to build a great culture at work or at home – tapping into the superpower of laughter is a must!
I first started thinking about this when I signed up for a class during my undergrad (25+ years ago!) on the psychology of laughter. This was the first time I actually recognized the power that laughter can have on individual relationships as well as on overall culture. More recently, research tells us that children seem to appreciate and benefit from laughter instinctively – they laugh all the time! But adults are missing out:
“The average four-year-old laughs 300 times /day.
The average 40-year-old? Only 4 times.”
Source: Psychology Today
So why is laughing together a MUST for cultivating great culture? Here are a few top reasons, as well as some ideas on how you can use laughter to improve the culture around you!
Reason #1: It’s A People Connector
When we laugh together – we are sharing a common experience. It builds emotional attachment and bonding.
Not only do we feel closer to others when we laugh together – but others are attracted to it. Great leadership is when people want to follow you, so if you want to be a great leader (at work and home) it’s essential to loosen up and laugh at yourself!
Reason #2: It Reduces Stress
Research from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says people who laugh decrease stress-related hormones. Laughter also relaxes our muscles, decreases pain and even boosts our immunity! When I’m coaching high performing teams they are often extremely stressed, and one of my first goals is to get them to laugh within the first 15 minutes (I’m not kidding). As a coach I’m trying to build trust as fast as possible, in order to teach skills so that we can create change. I have consistently noticed that if I can get teams to laugh together, they become more relaxed and open to learning.
Reason #3: It Improves Productivity (& Bonuses!)
A common concern with laughter is that it is going to waste time and diminish productivity, but research has found that if it’s done in small chunks of time – it actually increases productivity. Harvard Business Review found that employees were 10% more productive than their colleagues after watching a comedy clip. In addition, they observed that the “funnier” an executive was – the higher the average bonus! People value ‘funny’!
Reason #4: It Defuses Conflict
Try to think of a time when nothing was going right for you. For me these times always seems to resolve around cooking (not my strength). Last year I remember working for several hours trying to make my family a fantastic holiday meal. The result: 2 out of the 4 dishes were fully burnt (I’m talking charcoal black), with another dish just “ok”. Sitting at the table, one of my sons said to me sincerely, “Thanks Mom for trying.” – and then we all just burst out laughing. The meal was a disaster, and yet the laughter we shared instantly soothed it (we still talk about this 1 year later), and actually bonded us.
Hopefully you have been persuaded to inject a little more humor into your life – so where should you begin? You don’t have to be a comedian for this to work – start with trying to loosen up and just share a funny story from your own experience with your team. You can also look for funny images or online memes to share. One of my favorite methods is what I call the “Top 5”. You can ask both your teams at work or your family at home this question (daily or weekly):
- What are your top #3 highs?
- What is your #1 low?
- What is your #1 funny thing that you experienced?
This question gives you a quick pulse on what is happening in their life, but also ensures a funny spin on it to finish off with.
Do you have other tips for helping to inject humour with your teams at work or at home? I’d love to hear them! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Leadership & Relationship Coach