Why so serious?

11615503-laughing-out-loud-emoticon1Imagine if you could boost engagement and wellbeing, encourage creativity and collaboration and improve analytical precision and productivity. Better yet, imagine if you could do all that with one tool? Alison Beard, in her 2014 Harvard Business Review article, Leading with humour, says “Make ‘em laugh to reap all those benefits.”

You know how you feel after a good belly laugh. Your brain and body are flooded with endorphins, you feel recharged, optimistic and happier. There’s a zing in your step and you feel anything is possible. Imagine the power of amplifying this across your team and your organisation!

In terms of influence, humour is the new frontier. “Humour? You have to be kidding”, you might say. “I’m not funny, and definitely not at work!” You might even add with some pompousness: “Do you know who I am and what I do?”

Beg your pardon. Somehow work has become synonymous with often-unnecessary gravitas, dour demeanors, pursed lips and furrowed brows. No wonder best-selling Irish author Marian Keyes has one of her characters moan about work, saying: “That is why it is called work; otherwise it would be called deep-tissue massage.”

Every motivational speaker knows that at the end of the day, no matter how compelling your message, the two tools that help you get through your audience’s defenses are humour and stories. In leadership and influence the same rule applies.

Humour is number one in business because it is so scarce. If humour was a natural resource our current state of humorlessness in business would immediately be declared a worldwide emergency. And humour – just like any skill – can be learnt. But why would you bother? Because humour is the MEGA contagion of connection and influence.

Please comment, I love hearing from you.

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  • Phil Mizzi

    I would totally agree about the comments made about humour. I believe , for the listener, humour establishes you are human! I am a lay preacher and I always use humour and stories to get across my point. Once you have shared a good, relevant, humorous story with the congregation, you can see the difference. It’s almost like the audience is on their sofa at home, getting in the most comfortable position (well within reason with pews and in the church) and getting ready to watch and listen to their favourite TV show.

  • Reply

    I think that when you are starting out in your career there is a tendency to be safe and serious because you don’t want to rock the boat and you want people to take you seriously…the more experience you have the less this approach is required but perhaps it is sometimes difficult to unlearn the behaviour.

    • Yamini Naidu

      Simon totally agree. Also once people get promoted, then tend to adopt a serious facade too.

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