Using Humor for a Change
by Scott Friedman, CSP
With restructurings, takeovers, and layoffs sweeping the corporate world, employee insecurity and fear are at record levels. The definition of an optimist in corporate America today is an employee who brings his lunch to work. Change has become a daily activity with no end in sight. Anxiety reverberates throughout the entire organization. During these times, corporations need some sort of antidote for stress. Many companies see a dose of humor as a remedy to reduce tension and motivate workers. By coming to our senses of humor, we find truth in the statement that he or she who laughs, lasts.
Does a sense of humor translate into dollars and cents? While the savings won't show up on your balance sheet under comic credits or laugh assets, humor does add an intangible but real benefit.
Humor creates bonds in the workplace. It's the shortest distance between two people. Humor helps establish a feeling of camaraderie and sets the tone for cooperation rather than contention.
To use humor positively at work, people must take themselves lightly, while taking their jobs seriously. Humor is much more than just telling jokes. Humor is the ability to find something funny in your predicament. A comic vision helps people tolerate change in the workplace and get along better with others.
The health of any organization is in direct proportion to that organization's ability to laugh at itself. Many companies are just too darn serious. Their structure and formality inhibit open communications and stifle creativity. If organizations would loosen up a little, they would realize that informality and spontaneity foster open communications and stimulate creativity. What setting is more informal and spontaneous than one with good humor, fun, and play?
Humor is a technique that can be learned, practiced, reinforced and internalized just like other skills. Where do you start? First, remember that you don't need to be a stand-up comic, you just need to add some spirit to the work environment.
The first ten minutes of the morning set the 'attitude' for the rest of the day, so start light. Here are some ideas:
The most effective humor has its roots in kindliness and affection. The highest form of laughter is to laugh at yourself; the lowest is to laugh at someone else. Making fun of yourself creates instant rapport and creates bonds with workers.
One executive was quoted as saying, "There are two ways to develop self-esteem at the office. The first is to share positive humor, and the second is to take all mirrors out of the washrooms."
A healthy sense of life's absurdities can help us forget our problems and put a smile on our faces. With humor we can sit back, detach ourselves from the situation, and laugh at ourselves for becoming so reactive at life's afflictions. And we can ask ourselves, "Why am I taking life so seriously? It's not permanent." No one gets out of it alive anyway. In a hundred years, what difference will it make anyway. So lighten up! So if a tornado blows off your roof, be like the guy who put up a sign saying, "Open House Today."
"Laughter is contagious --- Why not infect the whole company?"
Copyright Scott Friedman. All Rights Reserved.
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