Monday, February 20, 2017

How Humor Can Help You Lead Better

That laughter brings with it a number of benefits is an undeniable fact. Laughter can bestow business benefits also. That is the reason management experts emphatically say that there should be laughter in every workplace. Even the so-called serious institutions like the London Business School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wharton have done researches about the business benefits of laughter. The findings of their researches reveal that every time employees laugh, guffaw or chuckle, they get rid of the stress, boredom and the anxiety they face at their workplace. Not only that, their creativity and their willingness to collaborate with each other go up by several notches. Since the analytical precision of these employees improves also, we can see increased productivity at the workplace.

In a video featured on the website of his institution, Eric Tsytsylin, who did his MBA at Stanford, says that adults and especially, those who are working, are experiencing the onslaught of what is known as a "laughter drought." Research findings reveal that on an average, babies laugh 400 times daily but those above the age of 35 laugh only 15 times daily. Even the Gallup data gathered for the US show that working adults laugh much less on weekdays than they do on weekends. In short, work has become a sober and serious endeavor.

From this, it is quite clear that if organizations, managers and leaders ensure that their employees laugh more, they can get more out of them. But the main objection may be that how an individual enjoys humor is subjective. A situation that appears humorous to one person may be irritating to another person. But books such as "TheHumor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny" and "Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind" contest this notion. 

According to these books, there is a specific formula that can make all the people laugh. According to the authors of the book "The Humor Code," "humor rests on benign violation." This theory can be elaborated like this: Something can provoke people to laugh not only if it is "wrong, unsettling or threatening" but if it is "okay, acceptable or safe" as well. At the same time, the authors of this book acknowledge the facts that "it is easier to fail with humor than succeed" and that it is on contexts that the success of a joke depends. But if those who crack the jokes know their audience, they can use the formula of "benign violation" effectively. 

The book "Inside Jokes" seems to adopt an academic approach and since the analysis authors have done on different types of humor may be boring, let us not delve further into it.

Though, as the manager of your office, you may ensure that your speeches or presentations contain sufficient quantity of humor, you may hate to purposely go from one team member to another telling your jokes. But what type of humor can help you lead better? 

Experts say that self-deprecating jokes, light teasing, poking fun at outsiders, of course, privately, etc. may work. At the same time, these experts hasten to warn that you should use these ways with utmost care because you must not forget that passing discriminatory comments against others is an offense for which you can be punished.

Another research by Gang Zhang, who is doing his doctoral study at the London Business School reveals that though the motivation levels of employees may go up, thanks to the humor of their managers, they may not have as much respect for these managers as they have for others. Especially, those managers who deprecate themselves may not command much respect. 

Here are a few tips that may help you use humor to lead your staff better:

Be authentic and honest while telling your jokes.

You need not even crack jokes. Your staff will enjoy and appreciate you even if they think that you are clever. 

Sometimes, chuckling at yourself may also be sufficient to make your staff laugh. 

When everyone in your workplace is worried about something, try poking fun at the situation itself. If you make everyone laugh despite the situation, you can justifiably assume that you have succeeded in easing the stress. 

To be sure if a workman is really amused, look if there is crinkling around his eyes. If you are able to see it, you can certainly conclude that you have truly made him come out with what is called the "Duchenne" laughter. It was Duchenne, a French physician who first identified this laughter, that is the result of real amusement.

In short, every working adult should remember the words of Edward Hall, the famous anthropologist - "If you can learn the humor of a people and really control it, you know that you are also in control of nearly everything else."

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