Happier, Healthier Human Connections in the Workplace

Ask anyone you know how they feel about laughter. Granted, there are folks who are self-conscious about the sound of their laugh, but there’s no denying it feels amazing. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hates it.

Everyone loves to laugh and the longer we go between laughing the more likely it is that you will hear someone say “wow, I needed that,” after the eventual release. You know the kind, where you erupt into uncontrollable, gut-busting, even tear-inducing laughter? Ah, that’s the BEST.

The truth of the matter is that we all need laughter. It’s part of who we are as a species and critical in how we connect with others. Very young babies, some documented even while in utero, begin smiling as a natural human instinct.

What’s Up, Doc?

There are plenty of scientific studies regarding the health benefits of laughter, but who needs a lengthy dissertation when you can simply pull from your personal experience of knowing how delicious it feels to laugh?

It’s crucial for our wellbeing to be happy and to laugh often. Why, then, wouldn’t we be more intentional about bringing humor and connection into the workplace? As employers, it is wise to create a company culture where people are celebrated for their unique skill sets while also enjoying coming to work, especially when you consider how much of our lives are spent on the clock.

There are many simple ways to incorporate happiness and humor into the daily grind without having to put in much effort. Here are a few thoughts to consider –

  1. Humor can draw us closer together. We often laugh when we have a shared experience. If you think something is funny, point it out or tell someone your thoughts and be confident in your perspective.
  2. Be playful and professional. Be mindful of your audience, and don’t use humor as an excuse to single someone out or belittle a co-worker. Laughing with someone is much different than laughing at them.
  3. Highlight the quirks of human nature. Look for opportunities to tackle common misconceptions in the workplace with a positive attitude so the humor can be lighthearted and not hurtful.
  4. Never underestimate the power of a smile. Even if you aren’t the resident jokester, smiling at work can have a contagious effect on the whole team.
  5. Take a risk and try something new as a team. Group activities outside the normal office setting a few times a year with a goal of having fun and learning more about each other are a great investment with a return of increased employee retention. Happy employees stick around longer!

Of course, it’s always fun to go bowling, do a ropes course, or rent a taco truck for the holiday party, but there’s a cutting-edge option for team building that can be a powerful tool for your staff professionally and personally. One word – Improvisation.

Beyond the Realm of Performance

The art of Improvisation is commonly tied to comedic performances. It is a wildly popular form of entertainment, and the reason it works so well is because there are underlying rules that everyone plays by. Rules that are all designed to be positive, collaborative, and forward thinking. They make each other look good in the scene. The audience gets attached to the relationships of the characters on stage and when everyone is on the same page the funny comes with very little effort. The core principle of Improv is “Yes, And,” which essentially allows you to take any topic or situation you are handed and build onto it with your own ideas.

The mindset of Improv creates a safe place for people to think and act off-the-cuff without fear of judgement. As a result, team members instinctively begin to say and do things that may be a little out of character. That’s when the laughter happens.  By suspending judgement at the door, a team can begin to unlock the collective potential of the whole group with the freedom to try new things and make bold choices.

An interactive Improv workshop encompasses all the basics of human connections. Hot topics for team events include things like creativity, sales strategies, active listening, presentation skills, and building trust. When humanity is brought back into the equation, employees become valuable individuals, and an energy of inspiration and mutual respect abounds.

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