Friday, July 9, 2010

Make em Laugh part 2 :)

Make em laugh Part 2

Laughter is infectious. It has a curious way of drawing people to it. It can change the atmosphere as quickly as switching on a light. In the formative years of life, we learn to laugh without language or props. A baby will respond without the provocation of witty dialogue. A smile or a BOO! Will do it!

As we grow and become more sophisticated with education, we can lose, or mask the simplistic approach to fun. Sadly, there are now classes held around the world to teach people to laugh! Drop around to my place and I guarantee you will find your sense of humour before the first laxative takes hold.

Successful teams, are teams that approach their objectives with the ability to make light of heavy going. I don’t mean making a mockery of serious stuff, but releasing the tension out of a potentially volatile situation.

Many years ago, as an exec chef, I had taken over a struggling food outlet. The previous boss had ruled with an iron fist and as a result had intimidated the staff to the point of abuse.

I was about to whip forty liters of cream in the commercial beater. Instead of my usual safety check, I just hit the start button. In one overwhelming burst of madness, the whole of the contents of the bowl hurtled in every imaginable direction, drenching me from head to toe in half the cream and the remainder on the ceiling, walls, and floor. You could hear a pin drop as every worker stopped their work and waited for my response. I took one finger and dragged it over my face gathering some of the spilled cream and licked it. With a giggle in my voice I said, “It needs more sugar” and walked out of the kitchen to get a change of uniform. On my return, the atmosphere had changed, the people had identified with me and we became a team. This team were to become some of my greatest supporters in the years to come.

Here are some practical ways to lighten the load :

• Flash your ivories. Smiling is one sure way to get a response. People will either smile back or try to figure out what you are on! Smiling is the beginning of laughter and laughter is contagious. We don’t need a reason to smile, train yourself to do it. I am a smiley person and I am always getting people smiling back. So often that I am often being asked by those that are with me, “do you know that person?” and the answer is mostly, No. The smile opens up opportunities to speak and speaking is a way to get to make friends. Try it, it works!

• Consider the good stuff. Try listing some of the good things in your life. It’s a powerful way of counteracting the difficult stuff. Our thought life directly reflects our mood. My mother had a saying “I complained about having no shoes until I met a man who had no feet". I am always around people who are underprivileged in life and it is a constant reminder of the privileged life I lead. Visit the cancer ward of your local hospital and then tell me you lack in life.

• When laughter is heard, seek it out. There was a common statement that the secretaries said, when people came looking for me at my office. ‘Just follow the laughter”. I loved that being said of me! What a compliment. Sometimes humour and laughter is a private matter, but in my experience, I like people who want a laugh. As part of my role, I counsel people over pretty serious and painful situations. Often at the outset there is no place for humour, but on more than one occasion, staff would appear at my door wondering what the laughter was all about? Later on I would be asked “How come such a tense situation became so funny” I’d say, ‘Have you ever listened to my counsel”.

• Seek out fun people. Find the party! I have always gravitated to people that can see the funny side of life. I remember some years ago, interviewing a bunch of potential secretaries, and always seem to settle on the one with the best sense of humour, but the least appropriate for the job. The companies P.A. would be in fits of uncontrollable laughter as she watched me go through the process, for she knew that ultimately the “new” secretary would ‘go onto better things” and the process would begin again. Why? Because I had a knack of inspiring people to come out of their shell and the basis of this was humour. My filing cabinets always remained a source of mystery, but we had some fun times.

• Look for opportunities to use humour in conversations. I can find humour in the most serious of situations, but they are not always the most appropriate forums to use it. Humour is often influenced by our culture and nationality. I speak at conferences and meetings internationally and often language can be a barrier to understanding. Ironically, I have had some of the funniest situations take place despite it. If we make a point using humour to lighten a situation, we increase our chances of receptivity.

Here are some of the health benefits of laughter

Physical Health Benefits:
• Boosts immunity
• Lowers stress hormones
• Decreases pain
• Relaxes your muscles
• Prevents heart disease

Mental Health Benefits:
• Adds joy and zest to life
• Eases anxiety and fear
• Relieves stress
• Improves mood
• Enhances resilience

Social Benefits:
• Strengthens relationships
• Attracts others to us
• Enhances teamwork
• Helps defuse conflict
• Promotes group bonding