Cracking jokes at work and laughing while indulging in lively banter filled with wit and humour leads to better health, improved communication and above all creates an atmosphere for increased productivity, says a new book.
Humour is not a substitute for any management technique or a cure-all for the failures of the enterprise, it is about mobilising the benefits of playfulness and pleasure to bring out the best in the employees, it says.
"Humour at the workplace is much more than the telling of side-splitting stories of the giving of light-hearted lectures. It is creating a work atmosphere which is constructive and creative, practical and pragmatic, enthusiastic and effective," writes Bangalore-based corporate trainer K Sathyanarayana in The Power of Humour at the Workplace.
The writer says the benefits of humour can be reaped in every function of management of every type of business and the manager who is armed with a sense of humour enjoys an explicit edge over others at the workplace.
The corporate management should give due recognition to humour at the workplace, in the same way it treats quality, flexibility and timeliness as important. In his foreword, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd. CMD Sanjay Kirloskar writes: "Humour helps everyone to go home from the workplace in a happy mood.
This is a very important requirement (even though it gets neglected very often); otherwise one will be carrying the after-effects of events at the workplace to his home. As a corollary, no person will be successful if he brings domestic problems to his workplace, his mind acting as a godown of problems, worries and anxiety.
A recent study covering leading CEOs and deans of business schools in the USA found many of them declaring that humour can reduce executive stress significantly.
The CEOs were unanimous in stating that humour is not merely desirable in business; it plays such an important role in today's business environment that special attention should be paid by executives to improve their sense of humour.
They also suggested that while recruiting, applicants with better sense of humour may be given preference, when other eligibility factors are equal.
Humour has been used by many managers to generate a favourable ambiance at the workplace. They can use humour to enliven their communications, presentations, instructions and appreciations.
Properly applied humour enables people to unwind, get energised and reach their goals. Humour keeps employees happy at work, helps them take up their responsibilities without getting too tense, and to create an atmosphere of friendship with others by reducing unwanted rivalry and bickering.
The greatest benefit of humour lies in the fact that it does not call for any big capital investment or special off-job training. It is applicable at all locations and by all people. According to Sathyanarayana, communications occupy the majority of time of all business managers.
"All communications have one real goal -- the sender wants to win the receiver over to his viewpoint. Humour, when appropriately used in these communications, helps in achieving the goal," he writes. Laughing at oneself is the most enjoyable and rewarding of all types of laughter.
Laughing at yourself in the midst of others is a mark of your maturity and strength. It makes people around you relaxed and helps them feel familiar with you.
This technique is the easiest, safest and most effective form of laughter," Sathyanarayana writes. One should not renounce one's true self and try to become someone else in order to be humorous.
"Humour is available to everyone, irrespective of age, gender, colour, race, or size; therefore there is no need for changing your dress, voice, language or gestures to use humour."
The book also tries to dispel the myth that humour is an inborn gift bestowed on only a select few and hence everyone cannot hope to use it.
"Everyone, who has at anytime laughed or smiled, has a dormant sense of humour which can be improved and made to blossom," he writes. But there is also a darker side of humour. "Humour is a very powerful tool.
There are many chances of your misusing and abusing it -- intentionally or unintentionally -- with the result being serious injuries to the victims. "Sarcasm, ridicule, irony, satire, vulgarity and jealousy are the causes of a number of forms of improper humour," Sathyanarayana writes. In all, humour leads to improved communications, better health, lowering of tension, and settling of discords, mature outlook, more creativity and enthusiasm, and above all, camaraderie.