by Dr Elmi Zulkarnain Osman
The role of humour in promoting a climate of creativity in organisations has been the focus of many of my academic researches. As an Education and Corporate Training Consultant, I have helped countless number of Government Organisations, Grassroots Organisations (GROs), Non-government Organisations (NGOs), Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to develop various educational and training programmes to add humour to their organisation’s culture here in Singapore.
My clients’ purpose and learning objectives remain similar. These organisations approached me to craft out programmes in the form of workshops, talks and also lectures to open up and encourage their peoples’ creativity. In this environment of creativity, effective problem solving can occur and thus lead to needed positive change.
“Humour is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
— Mark Twain
Humour has the power to positively influence almost any situation. Especially, the power of humour as a coping mechanism and as a conduit for effective problem solving can’t be overestimated. Humour is more than just funny concepts; it represents a multifunctional tool that can be used to achieve many objectives. One of these objectives is to use humour to reduce stress.
Laughter is good for your health
As a humorous motivational speaker and humorous corporate trainer, I often emphasised how laughter is the jest medicine. Turns out, whoever “they” are, they aren’t far from the truth. Humour appears to buffer an individual against the negative effects of stress. Furthermore, research reveals that a good sense of humour is related to muscle relaxation, control of pain and discomfort, positive mood states, and overall psychological health.
More than being an effective mechanism for coping with stress, laughter actually has measurable physiological effects that strengthen our immune systems. While stress can make us sick, laughter has been shown to increase our production of beta-endorphins, which help prevent illness.
On top of these benefits, laughter also burns calories. According to one study, laughing 100 times burns roughly as many calories as 10 minutes on a stationary bicycle. The study also found that the average adult laughs 300 to 500 times per day.
Humour increases productivity
It’s no secret that healthy employees tend to be more productive and engaged, and we’ve just learned that laughter really does make great medicine. But did you know that laughter can also make us better at our jobs? In addition to reducing stress, having a chuckle in the office makes us more motivated and engaged.
Comedy is good for the bottom line
Not only do employees who laugh at work tend to be healthier and more productive, but they are also absent from work less often. This reduction in absenteeism helps reduce costs to your business and increase business profits.
Organisational humour has often been linked with successful leadership, with increases in profit and work compliance, with a successful business culture, with message and goal clarity in managerial presentations, with improvement in group problem-solving, and with reducing emotional stress due to threats and role conflict at work.
Further, humour has been shown to increase our ability to make decisions, think creatively, and solve complex problems—all of which can make for more productive, innovative, and profitable organizations.
Jokes bring us together
Good comedy is a conspiracy. Create an in-group. Being “in” on the inside jokes can make team members feel like they’re part of the group.
In one of my recent research, I found that humour draws people together based on their shared understandings and provides ingroups with a common form of expression. That is, we communicate our shared experiences through jokes. Humour begets bonding; in return, bonding begets more ingroup humour.
For those of you looking for a great team building activity here in Singapore or South East Asia, try enrolling your team in one of my improv workshops.
Funny leaders appear more competent
A sense of humour is one of the two most desirable traits in leaders, the other being a strong work ethic. People who use humour, particularly in stressful or seemingly one-down positions are viewed as being on top of things, being in charge and in control, whether they are in fact or not.
Humour in the workplace can be risky. When I was a doctoral candidate at Trident University International, I found many literatures about employees admiring and feeling more motivated by leaders who use humour effectively. Employees have less respect for leaders who try to be funny and fail or who make fun of themselves. So, leaders, remember to think about your audience first before cracking your jokes.
Let’s Face It … Sometimes Life is Just a Little Bit Too Hard and Overwhelming.
The Power of Humour is about using humour skilfully, purposefully and appropriately to Connect, Engage and Influence. This workshop will inspire participants to see life from a different perspective and face challenges with courage, flexibility and hope.
Participants will also learn creative strategies for personal and professional growth using the Power of Humour.
For inquiries on Power of Humour Workshops or Lectures, feel free to contact me via email at [email protected]
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