They say that laughter is the best medicine. Humour and wit can be found all around us – even now when it seems there isn’t much to laugh about. But what does laughter bring in the workplace?
Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It’s the sweetest thing one can do for oneself & one’s fellow human beings.Maya Angelou
This weekend I binge-watched (twice) BBC’s Staged with the brilliant David Tennant and Michael Sheen. While watching, I realised that I haven’t laughed so much in ages – and it was just what I needed. If you haven’t seen it (and don’t mind quite a bit of swearing), then I can’t recommend it enough.
My sense of humour is random, obscure and often dark. When I was in my youth I always loved to play up in class – make the silly joke. This has carried through to my adulthood into the workplace – yep, I’m the one who disrupts online meetings with random, out-there virtual backgrounds, or adds a funny gif instead of typing sensibly in the chat.
Don’t get me wrong – I can turn on the professional. But, where I can, I like to try to make people smile because I feel that, in the day to day stresses of the workplace, it is in humour that we can find ways of connecting and remember our humanity.
After all – we work to live, not live to work.
And work should be fun at the end of the day, right? And there are lots of benefits to bringing laughter (where appropriate) to the workplace. I know I feel more energised, creative and motivated when what I am doing brings me a spark of joy. And I often notice that my laughter and joy rubs off on others – that people become more open and relaxed. That tensions dissipate and people connect and collaborate together with a renewed focus and sense of purpose.
It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.Oscar Wilde
I also love to use humour when I’m teaching others. I find it helps you retain information. I know it does for me – programmes like QI, for example, teach you so much in such a short space of time, while keeping you engaged and entertained.
But I always make sure I never make fun of others. If someone must be the butt of the joke, I make it myself – never anyone else. Humour, for me, is not putting others down, but trying to lift them up.
I dearly love a laugh… I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
It is also vital that I consider context. I never want anyone to feel that I am making light of something that is very important and serious to them. Or that I don’t care about their worries and concerns. That I am belittling their feelings and experiences. I have to ensure my humour is appropriate to the situation – that I am sensitive to those around me and use my emotional intelligence. But, if bringing a smile to someone could help, if that is what they need from me in that moment then, by-golly, I’m gonna try my best to make them giggle.
And things are really tough right now. There seems less and less reason to laugh, to feel joy. And, I confess, much of the laughter I experience at the moment lends itself more to the hysterical kind. But I’ve always been a bubbly, happy, insufferably ‘little miss sunshine’ type of person. And I don’t want to lose that – especially now. I have to stay true to my authentic, glass-half-full self – for my own wellbeing. And, hopefully, I can bring some of that energy, that sunshine to others.
Zoe Connell, Organisational and People Development