It's a Laughing Matter
Laughter is the best medicine. Yes it’s a cliché, but we know that humor is a great tool to help us cope with life. Studies show that laughter produces biochemical changes in the body that affect the immune, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems. Laughter releases natural painkillers that combat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
The notion that laughter possesses healing powers was popularized by former magazine editor Norman Cousins. In his book Anatomy of an Illness, he recounted how, armed with humor, he was able to overcome the debilitating symptoms of a crippling spinal disease. Minutes of a good belly laugh, he says, produced several hours of pain-free sleep.
Laughter can have huge benefits for your team because laughter is a social phenomenon. People are more likely to respond with laughter when they are with others than when they are alone. Most laughter is not so much about humor as it is about relationships. Those curious “ha-ha-ha’s” connect us. Research by Robert Provine at the University of Maryland found that most laughter does not follow jokes. In actuality people laughed after a variety of statements that were not jokes.
The Yale School of Management did a study about how one's mood can affect the work environment. It was found that "emotions spread like viruses” with cheerfulness and warmth at the top of the list. The study also stated that "in any work setting, the sound of laughter signals the group's emotional temperature, offering one sure sign that people's hearts as well as their minds are engaged."
If laughter can have that kind of effect on health, imagine what it might do to dental team performance. We know that stress can interfere with how employees function on the job – interrupted focus, depleted motivation, and reduced problem-solving abilities to name a few. But laughter helps us to maintain healthy perspective. Humor and laughter facilitate positive social interactions. It is the one form of communication to which everyone can relate. You don’t have to speak the same language to laugh together. Laughter also helps break the ice in groups. At its best, laughter builds bridges between people.
Many of the issues that you and your team face at work are outside your control – late cancellations or no-shows, difficult patients, increasing business costs. As long as you have a sense of humor, however, you can do something to minimize the hold that upsetting situations can have over you. When you feel as if you’re losing control, allow a little humor time. If you can find what’s funny in a situation, your distress might not seem as strong. We all know the relief we feel when someone in a group makes a funny comment during a tense situation. Humor can dispel anger and aggression in ourselves and others. Victor Borge said it best - “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
Humor is an important, but often overlooked, tool for team building. This doesn’t necessarily mean telling jokes, unless that is one of your talents. It means beginning to share your humorous perspective and giving others permission to do the same. A good sense of humor is something everyone can work on. It doesn’t just happen. Here are some ideas to help add more laughter to your team.
Laughter is one of the finest, most economical ways to build your team. Infuse humor into your office and inspire your team. You may be amazed how it helps to connect the employees in your practice. Remember, he who laughs, lasts.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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