Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Laughter at Work

Creative Commons: Eder Capobianco
Where has all the laughter gone?  There's an old saying that Laughter is the best medicine. I think its actually true. There's plenty of evidence like the Norman Cousins story of how he controlled his serious arthritic pain through laughing and actually got well.  In fact he says, "laughter puts the best in us to work" and that our "attitudes are powerful factors". If you don't know his story check it out (just click on "complete article" for the 3 pages).

There's a lot coming from brain science these days, neuroscience in particular, about how thoughts create our reality (reap what we sow) and how much our attitude affects our success.   Seems laughter is hand-in-hand with attitude.  In Norman Cousins day there wasn't such research.  His ideas and experiments were way out there but are now being validated through our ability to see and test for things we couldn't before - like we do now with fMRI.  While we don't know everything about why laughter works, one thing is very clear -- laughter increases the endorphins (happy chemicals) in our brain so we feel better when we laugh - a real natural high that reduces stress -- and who couldn't use less stress these days?

You don't need to wait until you're sick.  Have a preventive laugh

Start laughing here. What might those early conversations between dignitaries back in England and visitors to the New World have sounded like? Bob Newhart gives us a glimpse that is bound to make you laugh. Take a moment to increase those endorphins in your brain -- have a listen and a laugh and then there's more.

Knowing just this much about laughter, how do you (or could you) put laughter to work in your work? Here's three things to try and do add your ideas in the comments.

Start a new tradition for your routine meetings.  Open them with a funny cartoon, video clip or story. If you happen to be in charge and can bequeath such things, give those who share some laughter an extra half hour for lunch or some other cherished gift.  Maybe start a "laugh wall" in the break room and/or on an internal web page? Do your own experiment.  Try something that increases the laughter and see what difference it makes in your meetings and with your meeting outcomes. As you collect you'll have plenty of laughter to choose from to add into your trainings and presentations.

Trainings and Presentations
Speaking coach Linda Coles suggests to plan your funny bits and get to your first one in the first minute!  She also suggest to give people permission to laugh.  Sometimes the atmosphere is formal and serious and people hesitate to laugh so if you laugh your audience/participants will laugh along with you.  Use a funny video, cartoon or a funny story or line from your favorite movie to make a point.  Laughter is a helpful tension breaker and stress reliever and waker-upper (useful right after lunch). 

Social Media 
This may seem like a no-brainer but what better place to laugh along with your network or customers than through social media.  Its so easy since so much funny content is online these days from dance videos to babies laughing to comedy routines like the infamous Dave Grady conference call and I'm betting you've had that experience!  Its so easy to just grab the link and share with your circles (remember email is the place where good stuff goes to die so make it social).  Do you want them to share (retweet) with their circles too? Just ask.  Research shows when we ask we receive.

Jump in. 
Laughter puts the best in us to work, so how many ways can we make sure that we include laughter in our work?  How do you use laughter to raise people's spirits and energy?  What makes you laugh? How have you used laughter to break the tension or energize a group you're working with?


Prevention Lane said...

Love this!

We have been calling ourselves the "fun team" for quite some time. Lately things have gotten so busy that it's hard to take a break to just pause for laughter. Thanks for the reminder that taking a break to laugh *is* good for productivity and promoting health in the workplace. Cheers and here's one, if you haven't yet seen it, that's also great for a chuckle (after all, how can Brian Williams rapping not be funny!?): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YCeIgt7hMs


coyenator said...

Oh my, you are right about Brian Williams rapping - hilarious! I love that you're the self-described "fun team" and that you take that mantra on with such intention. I know what you mean about taking time to laugh and so glad the post served as a nudge :) You all have an amazing team Julie -- so happy to know and follow you. Keep sharing the fun stuff!! Perhaps we can laugh our way into a better future much like Norman Cousins laughed his way to wellness? Even if it doesn't work we'll have a great time trying!

Prevention Lane said...

That sound like a fantastic idea! So glad to continue (and be back to) following your work. Here's to more laughter and connections!