Rarely would I use the word “humorous” to describe the organizational environments in which I’ve worked. In fact, I have found that most leaders see laughter as the antithesis of productivity.
If you’re yucking it up, you’re not getting serious work done.
I think organizations have incorrectly defined “serious.”
Most people I know love to laugh, so I’m not sure when the rumor got started that seriousness means professionalism. It was probably started by that really boring, bitter guy who sat in the corner office.
Laughter is more than a reaction . . .
Laughter is a decidedly social signal. People are about 30 times more likely to laugh when they are with other people. But the act of laughter is not always directly related to a joke or the sometimes unfortunate attempt of a co-worker to tell a funny story. Sometimes people laugh as an expression of joy, other times they laugh in reaction to someone else laughing. The new approach used in the art of Laughing Yoga shows that not only does laughing make you healthier, it is contagious.
I think that every team should start their day with 5 minutes of laughter. Yes, we would all look insane, but, boy, would we get work done. And we might even have fun doing it.
My mother has always been a great instigator of laughter. Sometimes she would burst out laughing in the middle of our dinner prayers for no reason at all, and before long we would all be laughing hysterically. We didn’t know why we were laughing, we just knew that it felt good.
I’ve spent over 20 years helping organizations through change, and I have found that without laughter change can be a horribly painful process. But when you have someone on your team who laughs easily, then more gets accomplished.
I believe that . . .
There are certainly steps you want to take before just bursting out laughing in a meeting. You want to be sure that people know you, and trust that you are doing what is best for them and the company. And, you don’t laugh as an expression of condescension or mocking.
But when you let yourself laugh outright at the absurdity of organizational life, or the frustration over another roadblock, or the fact that the soda vending machines are being removed from the building, then you’ll feel much better about everything.
Because laughter brings light, and air, and everything we need to say, “Wow, there is a solution out there because we are much bigger than this problem.”