“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” – Victor Borge
Why Choose Laughter?
In our brave new world, it has become harder than ever to foster creativity, connection, and well-being among our work colleagues. However, research has shown that laughter is an untapped force that leaders can use to build genuine human connection and well-being among colleagues.
When we laugh, the brain releases a cocktail of chemicals that makes us feel less stressed, slightly euphoric, and more trusting of others. As such, it makes us more primed for connection, more resilient to stress, and more creative and resourceful.
One reason humour is so beneficial is because we can not experience two emotions. If we are laughing and feeling enjoyment, you can not be feeling pressured or stressed. Hence, the use of humour to bring levity to challenges and pressure can be hugely beneficial.
Benefits for your Team
The research on laughter in the workplace has revealed significant benefits:
- Leaders with a sense of humour are seen as 27% more motivating and admirable
- Employees are 15% more engaged with teams led by a humorous leader
- Such teams are twice as likely to solve a challenge that requires creativity
Other benefits of laughter include less burnout among employees, higher probabilities of learning, more collaboration among team members, faster recovery from stressful situations, and an increase in overall work effectiveness.
How to Implement Laughter in your Leadership Techniques
To use it authentically, you need to understand your own humour and that of your team. However, in general, here are some ways you can implement laughter into your leadership:
- Self-deprecation: By being able to laugh at yourself, especially when things go wrong, you set the tone for levity in your team. Being able to have a laugh at yourself signals to others that everything will be okay.
- Be clever: If you can’t be “ha ha” funny and tell jokes or stories, cleverness actually goes a long way. This could involve simple wordplay, humorous observations, or witty remarks!
- Facilitate a humorous working environment: While you may not be a funny person, you can facilitate laughter by allowing appropriate humour to be expressed by members of your team. This could be done by including an appropriate cartoon in a weekly email, allowing members to start meetings with a G-rated joke/story, and allowing the office jester appropriate space to add a bit of levity from time to time.
However, like with any joke, context is important. Ensure you read the room and make sure your attempts at laughter or humour are appropriate. Avoid using sarcasm, as it sends mixed-messages, and never “punch down”.