Work can sometimes feel like a very serious business. If you’re leader, it certainly can feel like it should be. But the ability to enjoy ourselves at work is essential. We all know that laughing makes us feel good. But this simple response is more complex than you might imagine. Research shows three massive benefits to laughing at work. 1) It relaxes you. It’s impossible to feel anxious or stressed while you’re laughing, so it’s an excellent way to defuse tension. This is why black humour is so common among teams working on the front line, whether the armed forces or the NHS. 2) Laughing is inherently social. If you’re watching a comedy alone, you’re much less likely to laugh than if you are with friends. Social researcher Robert Provine likens laughter to birdsong, as a form of social bonding and group coordination. This means it’s absolutely essential to team building. 3) Laughter allows us to think differently. It’s been shown to trigger the part of our brains that allow us to think more ‘loosely’ and connect different ideas. It really does make us more creative. Good leaders know how to use humour to get the best out of people – to help individuals relax, to help teams bond and to prompt new insights. And you’ll feel the benefits yourself, too. Could you spend some time thinking about how you can allow space for laughter and fun in your team meetings? You don't need to be a comedian, just allow space for people to relax and be social.
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