Research from such prestigious institutions such as Wharton, MIT, and London Business School clearly demonstrate laughter is a necessary component in the business environment. This isn’t a surprise, since commercial settings are typically serious places where work output and production are the main goals. But, there’s a lot that humor offers to a workspace. And, it’s not craziness or irrational, uncooperative team members. After all, crazy makes great headlines, it’s trouble for business. Humor is altogether different and it’s key to fostering better morale.
Why Humor Works in Business
Humor works in business for very simple reasons. First, it’s a great way to keep a positive mood. It’s also a proven stress reliever and breaks up boredom. In addition, humor helps to cultivate creativity and also boosts peer-to-peer engagement. What’s more, humor is a great way to deal with problematic customers. Not necessarily by insulting them but by channeling frustration into a more productive emotion.
Picture yourself in a group setting, maybe at a party or business function. You chime-in to the conversation with a line so funny, so perfect, so well-timed that the group erupts with laughter; maybe someone even slaps your arm in approval or sheds a tear laughing (when you’re really lucky). And you stand there and soak in your verbal victory. Then you replay it in your head a few times before you go to bed, and relish your moment of brilliant comedy. —Entrepreneur.com
Even though these benefits exist, humor is still not an actively sought component in the workplace. In fact, babies laugh an average of 400 times per day, whereas adults over the age of 35 laugh only 15, according to an article published by the Harvard Business Review. That’s a serious disparity and it’s backed by a poll conducted by the Gallup Organization, which revealed people laugh much less on weekdays than on weekends. With this insight, it’s no wonder we all need ways to make Mondays more productive and fun.
Comedy Lessons Entrepreneurs can Really Use
The fact of the matter is, humor does a lot more to get people to listen — it is very contagious and engaging. Humor also benefits long-term memory (just think about a few funny instances from your past and these will prove why). In addition, humor increases a person’s ability to persuade others, it serves as a learning aid, and also makes you more likeable. But what are the elements of good comedy? Aside from stating something rooted in the truth, there are five components funny people typically use:
- They don’t show telltale signs. We all know comedians will tell jokes but if you consider how they go about it, there’s a discernible pattern. That is, telling jokes with a straight face. The people you personally know who are naturally funny do the same — they don’t exhibit telltale signs when they are about to say something funny.
- They refrain from laughing, too. Although Red Skelton is one comedian who is notorious for laughing while telling a joke, the majority of naturally funny people just don’t. Sure, they might crack a smile but seldom laugh at their own jokes.
- They leap from normal to outrageous. Along with not displaying telltale signs, funny people jump from mundane to ludicrous without missing a beat. By going from something that is familiar to something that’s absurd, it takes people by surprise and lightens the mood.
- They usually make themselves the butt of the joke. Richard Lewis and Louis CK both do this regularly, and Rodney Dangerfield was a master at self-deprecating humor. However, this must be used in moderation because it will otherwise undermine authority.
- They reach out and show empathy to others but don’t spare themselves. An example would be Jack Dorsey commenting after Sundar Pichai suddenly cancelled plans to measure his office for the search engine’s CEO’s furniture, he knew Google wouldn’t be bidding on Twitter.
What’s your take on mixing funny quips and more with business talk and situations? Have you tried using one or more of these techniques? What do you find is the best approach?