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Why humor is important at a workplace

Why humor is important at a workplace

My boss asked me to start my presentation with a joke…, so I put my pay slip on the first slide.

If you’re a working person, you might find this funny, or you’re simply too serious about your work. New research reveals a sharp decrease in our sense of humor and ability to perceive humor around the age of 23. And it is no coincidence that this is when many begin their first “serious” job. Daily humor is suppressed and replaced with adult solemnity. From a Stanford University survey, a four-year-old laughs up to 300 times per day on average, and on average, a 40-year-old will laugh 300 times in 10 weeks. No wonder most of the gloomy and unengaged employees can’t wait for Saturday night. And the bleak truth is that most CEOs, managers, and leaders preside over organizations where it’s rare to hear a giggle.

The 9-to-5 work routine has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus, and it is a time that calls for humor more than ever. The idea of work from home might seem like a great idea at the start, but this idea has led to workers feeling anxious, lonely, depressed, and disconnected. And at a time like this, one way to lighten the mood is by using a little absurdity more often. In movies, we’ve seen how mean bosses get nothing done while the funny bosses have a fun team and have a productive work atmosphere. In real life—in most cases at least—research shows that funny and cheerful bosses are said to be more effective. Everyone wants to listen to a good joke, and along with humor, people will tend to listen more, learn, and act.

People who have a jovial nature attract more listeners. These people also build resilience. So when you’re funny, and you make people laugh—you build rapport with them—and you also relieve them and yourself from any stress that’s been holding you back. Studies show that people with a good sense of humor experience less stress than those with a poor sense of humor—even when they’re given the same challenges to face. Joking also builds trust in teams. Shared humor releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which makes people happy, deepens rapport and intimacy.

Coming to how humor can boost efficiency. There’s no thinking twice about a bunch of people sharing a hearty laugh over a joke that immediately quickens their bonding. And on that note of a lighter mood, brighter smiles, and running minds, brainstorming becomes much more effective than you can ever imagine. For instance, try humor as a warm-up exercise to help you get started. Brainstorm ideas—a ton of them—even if they seem like bad ones. By the time the session comes to an end, the outcome will be magnificent because all ideas have been brought to the table with an active and happy mind. 

As much as humor has got its own purpose, it is advisable to avoid cracking up jokes about people below you in the hierarchy. Instead, try taking yourself a little less seriously. Self-deprecation (or as we call it, self insults) reveals authenticity and brings out a more human side that people can well connect to. It can also make them think that the self-joking leader is more powerful than he or she actually is. But there’s the golden rule is: don’t ever punch down by making an employee the butt of your joke; instead, punch yourself. Obviously not too hard.

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