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There’s a big difference between telling a joke and being funny.
Opening up a Zoom call with a joke that sounds like it came from a Christmas cracker is likely to go down as well as starting a wedding speech with “Webster’s Dictionary defines love as…”
Yawn – nah, move on.
Even though so many of us are working from home at the moment, the ability of humour in the workplace, be it physical or digital, to inspire and encourage shouldn’t be underestimated.
In fact, Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, who teach a course at Stanford Graduate School of Business on humour, believe that when you make people laugh, you make people listen.
They’ve co-authored a book, Humor, Seriously, which lays out some of the ways in which humour can be such a powerful business tool.
These findings below summarised by Fortune:
- Leaders with a sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating and admired. Their employees are 15% more engaged and their teams are more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge.
- When pairs of strangers laughed together for five minutes before completing an exercise, their interactions were 30% more intimate than the control condition.
- Even adding a lighthearted line at the end of a sales pitch ”like, my final offer is X and — throw in my pet frog” increases customers’ willingness to pay by 18%.
- Workplaces that embedded humor in their culture said employees were 16% more likely to stay at their jobs, feel engaged and experience satisfaction.
Writing in 2014, the Harvard Business Review said that “laughter relieves stress and boredom… and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.”
Obviously, being the wise-cracking boss or employee only works to a point.
Don’t be that ‘entertainer first, boss second’ kind of person:
Yes, I will find just about any excuse to include clips from The Office.
A few tips, from Aaker and Bagdonas:
Out: A CEO telling a clearly rehearsed joke to open up a meeting.
In: Allowing meetings to open up with banter; unmute yourself when the dog’s barking. They relate an example of a business leader sharing his screen during an all-hands meeting and googling “things inspirational CEOs say in hard times.”
Feel free to use that one – we won’t tell anyone you nicked the idea.
With the past 12 months causing a disconnect in so many businesses, with employees scattered far and wide, there’s a trend towards making leadership more approachable, and humour can be a potent weapon in achieving that.
Alternatively, join the growing four-day workweek revolution, and your popularity is certain to surge.
You can check out the Stanford Graduate School of Business course on humour here.
Shall we finish with… yeah, you know what’s coming:
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