Is Work a Laughing Matter?

It’s been said that laughter is a survival skill in the often intense atmosphere of the workplace. Surely that seems obvious, but don’t underestimate the power laughter has to promote physical and mental health – key ingredients for a high performing workplace.

Laughter boosts the immune system, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes muscles, prevents heart disease, and can help lower anxiety. Laughter is so important it’s a part of the universal human vocabulary. It signals acceptance, positive interaction, and membership in a group. As long as the source of laughter is not offensive, hurtful, or at someone else’s expense, laughter at work can foster harmony, teamwork, and reduce conflict.

So how can you use the universal power of laughter to promote a high performing

  • In a seemingly serious or stressful situation, what “nuggets” of humor can you find to at least temporarily raise spirits
  • Begin your next meeting or conversation with an anecdote
  • Consider sharing humorous situations from your life that taught you something – you may be surprised at how often your coworkers can relate!

Worried about keeping laughter and jokes appropriate for the workplace?

  • Never joke about a coworker’s sexuality. You see all the headlines about sexual harassment – don’t become one!
  • Appearance is an emotionally charged area so avoid that topic
  • Stay away from religion, ethnicity, nationality, etc.
  • Avoid joking about bodily functions

If you’re wondering what you can joke about while remaining politically correct, consider making a joke about your own flaws or quirks – humility is charming! Find situations that you face along with all your coworkers such as new regulations, your busy schedules, the industry, etc. Laughter allows those around you to relate and enjoy your presence. It’s clear that people are more open to learn when they can all laugh together and even the most resistant employees are engaged and enlightened when we all learn to just laugh a little.

Article provided by Kit Goldman, President and Founder of Workplace Training Network.