Much is known about laughter and its impact on overall health. Research has long supported the idea that laughter and health are interdependent, and hospitals and nursing homes have begun to include daily and weekly focus on laughter promoting activities. Many hospitals are even offering stand-up comedians and clowns for their patients. But why is laughter important in the workplace? And how can your workspace become more effective with the simple addition of a little fun? Laughter creates a special bonding. Recall a moment when you were in a public place where you witnessed an amusing incident. During times of unexpected amusement, people who are complete strangers will make eye contact and laugh together. Their conversations suddenly become effortless. Two strangers sharing a moment of humor and fun will demonstrate body language that looks like they have known one another their entire lives. Laughter appears to be a component of the genetic endowment handed down from generations of surviving forefathers. The genetic endowment is like an inherited rule-book on survival that those before us have learned. These are lessons that survive from the caveman and early explorers who faced harsh survival conditions where only the strongest or most clever survived. The physical changes occurring in their brains from learning survival of the harshest conditions were then passed onto their offspring who in turn provided them to their own offspring. One such bit of genetic “gift” is our innate ability to look at snake eyes and understand if they will kill us. This is a fact no one is ever taught, it is an instinctive reaction to retreat from slatted eyes. Even children as young as two years of age have been shown to shrink away from a large photograph of a poisonous snake.
Laughter may be another aspect of the genetic endowment. There may be a rulebook similar to survival lessons except these innate rules favor socialization tactics. It is difficult to understand how so many people appear to have the same exact sense of humor as those around them. A stand-up comic will appeal to nearly everyone in the audience or conversely everyone will hate him. It is a rare thing indeed to see a comic that you believe is hilarious as others throw their nose up in the air. So how can laughter contribute to survival and be so important that it gets passed down genetically to your offspring? Benefits of humor and fun have been well-researched.
Survival of the race is the single most powerful force on the planet. Mothers instinctively kill to protect their children, and in truth they would put themselves in harm to protect the child of a stranger. Sex is a very powerful force that needs no further discussion here. The truth is the will to survive coupled with the powerful, immediate bonding of laughter would lead a thoughtful person to assume, laughter is about survival of the species. Add in what we know about the physiological and psychological benefits of humor and fun and assumptions can go further.
Hospitals provide comedy, humor and fun, especially cancer treatment centers for adults and children alike. Without a couple to raise a child, that child’s chances of survival are lowered when living in a single family home. A father traditionally would have been the hunter and the protector. If a wild beast appeared, the father would protect the genetic offspring to ensure survival of his species. The mother too is free to care more specifically for the child if the father provides food and protection. Laughter creates an immediate bond with strangers but more importantly it can establish re-bonding with committed partners. When people laugh, enjoying humor and fun together; and when they are in relationships with family and friends, they survive and that survival includes a higher quality of living.
Because laughter is so important to overall survival, could it be that laughter would help ensure the survival of your company? Through laughter and bonding, powerful work relationships would be formed and their work more effective and efficient. Bringing humor and fun into the workplace will increase productivity. When people laugh together they form a sense of trust. After all, if I believe something is funny and my friend believes the same, then he must be “normal” like I am.
How can you create laughter in the workplace? Well beyond the obvious of having clowns or comedians disrupting the office, there are other ways to do it. Lighten up on the work environment. An oppressive environment is one in which there is little room for laughter. If you set up friendly competition in the office, then the natural result will be playful laughter among competitors. If you institute lunchtime dance lines or allow workers to hum or listen to music as they work, again, laughter will result.
Efficiency and quality of work need not be sacrificed for the life sustained sensations of laughter. Through specific time frames placed upon identified objectives, playful competition can actually increase outcome. It will be important to define the parameters of play for you don’t want the office to resemble a day-care center. If the entire focus is on productivity and not vacation; then your employees will understand the changes and will surprise you by their focus.
Laughter heals and it ensures our survival. Work makes us feel important and needed, again factors related to survival. Competition and music appear to live deep inside of our souls and will naturally take on a playful quality even in the fiercest of competitions. By organizing effectively and having clearly defined goals and stated time constraints, you can fill your workplace with music, laughter, and competition and become a more effective machine for productivity in the professional office.
By: Santhanaram Jayaram