What’s So Funny?
In today’s working world not much. Which is why even a little bit of humour goes a long way to changing how we feel about going to work. The stats reveal that unprecedented numbers of employees are taking sick and stress related days off to offset the ill effects of long hours, grindstone atmospheres and endless commutes.
Humour is a simple and effective way to inspire and engage people and that emotional connection makes the workplace a happier and more productive place to be. As a facilitator, it is a great tool to add to any workshop design both formally or informally.
When we laugh we quickly form bonds and build nice little bridges of understanding with each other. And there is usually much to laugh at given that problems tend to be funnier than solutions. Laughter creates flow and allows us to look at serious issues with often fresh and innovative perspectives.
Humour helps to establish goodwill. When you leverage the elements of humour any message coming from you receives more weight than from someone who has not created rapport. When we laugh together we recognize how much we are alike. We share dreams and hopes and a real sense that we are all in this together which changes how people invest in their work. Think about what it feels like next time you are in a meeting and someone makes everyone laugh. There is a real sense of community that comes from it.
Years ago, I remember being one of ten candidates competing for a big training piece with an international auto maker. I love morning energy and when I drew the last interview spot of the day, I anticipated facing interviewers who would be dog tired and looking longingly for the day to end. The interview involved a traditional exchange of questions and answers as well as a chance to demonstrate elements of the training to be delivered. When they called to congratulate me they told me what separated me from the others was my sense of humour. They said it was so refreshing to laugh; it had really energized them after a long day. They also believed that humour would help to keep the learners engaged who would be entering the classroom on the heels of an 8 hour shift.
One of the first things to go when things get serious is our sense of humour. And as that story proves, it can be a great ally.
John Cleese of Monty Python fame recognized the workplace could use some humour and created training videos and a company that was sold in 1989 for 50 million British pounds.