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Clowning Achievements

clown.jpgIn case you’re wondering, there isn’t a typographical error in today’s title. We don’t want to talk about crowning achievements.

We saw a fantastic article in Business Week about the impact of humor in organizations. It’s an interview with Chris Robert, a management professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of a recent study The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure.

Now there’s a professor with a great sense of humor!

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Chuckles and creativity are connected

In his paper, he points out that humor is a universal language. It helps us feel more comfortable with other people. It brings out our child-like nature. It’s also contagious – one joke often brings on another.

Humor is also associated with intelligence and creativity, highly valued traits in today’s workplace. Dr. Robert notes that the main theory about humor is that we often laugh when two disparate things are put together.

A theory about humor? How funny!

He states that creativity often involves the same thing – connecting the dots. This link between being funny and being creative is supported by a number of studies.

Crack a joke and keep your employees

There’s also a strong connection between humor and positive emotions. He says that numerous studies have linked positive feelings with productivity in the workplace. So if you want a higher performing team, develop a sense of humor.

Finally, he points out that the real benefit comes in employee retention. People are less likely to quit if they feel their place of work is a positive place to be.

So how do you bring humor into the workplace?

Connect the dots

As we mentioned earlier, connect things that don’t naturally fit together. Here’s an example from Jay Leno:

“It’s crazy. First we had Mad Cow. Then we had bird flue. Now we have swine flu. Do we have to check the Chinese horoscope to see what flu is coming next?”

He’s mixing a current topic in with animals and the Chinese horoscope.

Pull it back in

Bring up a topic that was funny earlier. Or maybe it wasn’t funny earlier but it may be funny now. David Letterman is a master at this. Do you remember, “Uma … Oprah”? It bombed at the Oscars, but Dave often gets a bigg chortle when he does this.

Word play

The title to this post is an example. It may not make you laugh out loud, but you might get a little chuckle out of it. Sometimes a play on words can set off a bigg laugh.

A few lessons

Share other people’s humor like we did with Jay Leno. Understand that humor is subjective. You have to know your audience. Dave’s humor didn’t fly at the Oscars.

Be yourself. You can’t force it. Some people are good at off-the-cuff comments. Others have to plan it out.

Finally, remember that you don’t have to be funny yourself to participate. Laughing at a joke connects you just as much as making one!

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Please join us next time when we talk about a great way to have fun with your friends using only things you already have in your home.

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

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(Image in today's post by Tzvook)