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Laughter As A Leadership Tool

One of our values at NewPointe is laughing hard and long. This doesn’t mean that NewPointe has the responsibility to make a person laugh and be happy, though we are intentional in working to have moments of fun and laughter. But it is also a very personal choice.Are you fun to work with? Do you take your work seriously, but not yourself?“Laughter is the best medicine” is more than a proverb. Laughter, in addition to boosting your own and your team’s spirits, can actually have health enhancing effects. Laughter stimulates circulation and relaxes tense muscles; after laughing, studies have shown that people feel more motivated, optimistic and calmer under pressure. Research has found that the average child laughs about 400 times a day, but the average adult laughs only 12 times. That’s a significant and sorry loss.Laughter provides important natural defenses against illness. Mental benefits include: laughter diffuses bad stress, enhances problem-solving skills, and creates a new perspective. Emotional benefits involve: laughter elevates moods, counteracts depression symptoms. ... It helps us build resilience to stress and find meaning in life.If laughter is that beneficial, certainly it should be a part of the workplace. A recent research study focused on how people behaved in team meetings. They found that the average meeting contained at least 13 instances of laughter, with a good number of those being about particular problems at work. The laughter is especially crucial as companies undergo periods of profound change and uncertainty caused by significant outside pressures.What are the benefits of laughter and humor in the workplace?Humor increases productivity. Humor can prevent boredom and fatigue. The routines of daily work can be draining... A lack of challenging, creative, exciting work leaves employees feeling bored. But humor increases creative thinking and the willingness to help others. Creative thinking is an asset when it comes to solving problems at work. Regular humor in the workplace stimulates creative thinking, which can lead to innovative new ideas and practices. When energy is up, creative juices are flowing, people are brainstorming, and people are excited about results.Funny people are more approachable. This works between and employee and managers, and client relationships. It breaks down walls of tension, unfamiliarity and stress. Where you didn’t know someone very well, but after sharing a laugh, you felt an instant bond. It brings people together. When others laugh, you can’t help joining in.Humor is an all-natural stress reliever. Laughter is so successful at relieving stress because it is a physical and emotional experience — your body and mind are flooded with sheer joy.It makes people happier to come to work. Who doesn’t want to love where they work? When you spend upwards of one-third of your day at work, you better be sure it’s a place you actually enjoy spending time in. Laughter helps you start to associate work with happy thoughts, memories of laughing, joking around, etc. — all good ways of reinforcing positive emotions about the workplace.Humor diffuses conflict and makes people less critical. When people can laugh in the face of fear and conflict, rather than panic and run away, they’re also able to come up with better solutions to their problems. Being able to take it all with a grain of salt goes a long way. Humor makes people less critical of themselves and others. We all want to be perceived as “right”, but laughter lets our minds ponder the possibilities and get creative in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. When we’re able to shut off the internal critic for ourselves and others, we’re able to take new perspectives on old problems and come up with even better solutions.It reduces turnover. Creating strong relationships among coworkers creates teams that stick.Laughter can also be a useful way to take the pulse of an organization. Rather than dismissing the way employees joke or what they laugh about. Leaders should realize it is a valuable opportunity to see inside the thoughts of their teams. We laugh about things that consistently occupy our minds. It will give you an insight into the frustrations faced by your team, and the barriers they're facing... Humor can therefore be a good way of both letting off some steam and taking the first step to solving the problems your team face.American neuroscientist Robert Provine says laughter is about relationships. It’s a subconscious signal that this is a place of safety and our guard is down. He suggests two ways to make laughter happen more often.

  • As a leader, adopt a laugh ready attitude. Be open to laughter, and lower your threshold and resistance to laughter.

  • Arrange more social events, gatherings that are intended just to get people together and enjoy, not accomplishing something.

Prioritizing laughter may be a stroke of genius, the most important new tool you will try. You just might laugh your way to inspiration and success!

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