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Program 1: Humor Works
The Value of Humor in the Workplace

As young kids, most of us were taught that humor is silly and unproductive. And so while pre-schoolers laugh hundreds of times a day, adult average only fifteen. The child with musical ability may be sent to the music room, and the one with artistic talent may go to the art room, but the one with a good sense of humor goes to the principal's office. What gets squashed here is not just humor but enthusiasm, joy, and creativity. As adults, we don't have to learn to laugh. We just have to give ourselves permission to enjoy what was so natural for us when we were kids.

Fortunately, since 1990, a wide variety of employers have begun to appreciate the benefits of humor. A number of companies have installed "humor rooms." Over 100 American hospitals now have "comedy carts" for patients and their families. A great role model here is Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines. We'll see how he made Southwest the most successful airline in the U.S. by building humor and playfulness into its corporate culture.

Next, we'll learn a little psychology as we look into the nature of humor and the way it gives us "mental distance," and so perspective, on problems. With this understanding, we'll then explore three benefits of humor. First, it boosts physical and mental health, especially by reducing stress. Secondly, it promotes mental flexibility--our ability to cope with change, handle mistakes in a constructive way, and solve problems creatively. And thirdly, humor works as a social lubricant, smoothing out interactions with colleagues and with clients. Messages that would otherwise be threatening, such as criticisms, are far more effective when humor is added. We'll also see how women's approaches to humor are often different from men's, and how each can learn from the other.

This program is filled with funny examples from real workplaces, many of them presented visually for added impact. We don't just learn a lot, we laugh a lot.


© 2017 John Morreall