Exactly a year ago, I started the morning with pulling a prank on my teenage daughters. I sent them a link to an article about how kids will have to repeat another year of school! Before the yelling and tears started, I blurted out “April Fool’s!” They were both angry, but also relieved. A short while later, I walked into my home office and saw what looked to be a giant cockroach in my lamp shade!
I screamed, the girls came running in, and I realized that I had been pranked! What resulted was minutes of loud laughter and joyful tears! I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. And amongst all the stress, anxiety, and tension from the past few weeks with the COVID crisis, and the major changes brought on in all of our lives, the laughter provided an avenue of release and connected us even more. And for parents of teenagers, I’m sure you can relate to how limited and necessary moments such as these are.
Now a year later, it got me thinking about the last time I laughed with a colleague, a boss, or my team. Did it generate a stronger connection? Yes, it did. Did it help improve morale and engagement? Absolutely. And with stronger connections and improved engagement, from all the research at Gallup, we know that productivity is undeniably enhanced.
So how can you incorporate some laughter into your workday or workweek? Here are some strategies:
Share a funny story that’s from your personal or work life. You can see how I just shared mine! Stories make us more relatable and leaders can use them to influence, teach, and inspire. Jokes can also be incorporated into meetings. I once had a boss that was very skilled in telling appropriate jokes, but also had another boss who was skilled in telling inappropriate jokes. Keep your stories and jokes G-rated.
Here’s one of my favorite videos to share – the BBC news reporter being interrupted by his kids. I once led a team discussion on empathy and started with this. After a few minutes of laughter, several of us shared the struggle of balancing and juggling multiple roles during these trying times. We discussed how important flexibility, understanding, and compassion are important in the workplace and what we could each do to help encourage these values.
Ever heard of a “laughing club?” A laughing club practices laughter yoga, a movement that began in India in the 1990s through Dr. Madan Kataria. It involves exactly what the name implies – exercises to induce voluntary laughter. The concept of “fake it til you make it” comes to mind here as this exercise involves laughing for no reason! Dr. Kataria can show you how – see his TEDMED talk.
So can’t think of a joke or story to share and yoga is not your thing? Try to smile more in your in-person and virtual sessions. Even when you are on a phone call, smiling can enhance something in your voice that tells the listener you are projecting positivity in your tone.
Lead better with laughter. Laugh more and get others to laugh too. You can brighten someone’s day just like my daughters brightened mine. Happy April Fool’s Day!
Let’s get your workplace laughing more! Reach out to me:
Aashi Arora, MHA
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