Humor is a tangible demonstration of the most important attributes of the right side of the brain: the ability to place situations in context, to see the big picture, to combine different elements to create new things among other things. According to studies, humor reduces hostility, relieves stress, allows a better criticism and helps to communicate difficult messages. And it promotes creativity too!
Nowadays, humor is oftentimes encourages in workplaces because it promotes creativity and liveliness among employees. A survey conducted in the mid-1980’s found that 84% of Vice Presidents and personnel directors interviewed in 100 of the largest corporations in the country felt that employees with a sense of humor are more effective on the job than people with little or no sense of humor.
Over 50 years of research on creativity has shown that playfulness and humor have a positive impact on the quantity of ideas and the quality of creative thinking in groups, which can lead to an increase in the organization’s innovative output.
Hal Rosenbluth, CEO of Rosenbluth International, has stated that “We know that the only way for us to continuously provide solutions to the needs of an ever-changing business world is to have the kind of environment where spontaneity thrives. Making work fun, in his view, is essential to achieving this kind of environment.
How does humor support creative thinking? One way is by emotionally distancing you from the problem at hand for a while. Most people think more creatively when they’re not so seriously and intently focused on the task – when they’re relaxed, and the pressure is off. Humor also nurtures creativity by offering practice at stretching your thinking to make sense out of something. Both humor and other forms of creative individuals see meaningful connections between ideas or events that others can see when they’re pointed out, but have difficulty coming up with on their own. Humor primes the pump and gets the creative juices flowing. In jokes, for example, the punch like delivers the humor by obliging you to find some new unexpected meaning that is essential for the joke to make sense.
And it’s not just creativity that laughter contributes to us. According to Robert Provine, laughter, besides producing great aerobic benefits, is a social activity—you do not usually laugh alone— that allows us to connect with other people in a healthier and happier way. Here are some of the benefits:
- Happy people relate better with others, which means they work better with colleagues, bosses, subordinates, customers, etc.
- Happy people are more creative, because their mood makes them more responsive and allows them to have more and better ideas.
- Happy people solve problems in a much more constructive way. They do not focus on blaming.
- Happy people have more energy and are more motivated. Sure you’ve realized this one.
- Happy people are more optimistic, and there are studies claiming that optimists are more productive and more successful in their lives (3).
- Happy people learn faster, as a result of being more relaxed and open to new experiences.
- Happy people make better decisions because they are not in crisis situations.
How about you guys? You think humor in the workplace is helpful or is just a distraction? What do you do to get the creative juices flowing? I’d love to hear from you!