Babies laugh about 400 times a day. By the time we are 35 we laugh about 5 times a day. If you're searching for the secret to eternal youth, maybe that's it! More than just being youthful though, laughing is actually great for business.
Advertisers have known this for years. Laughing is contagious. How many advertisements for a product or service have you seen with people grumpy about their experience? When we see somebody experiencing the joy of using a product or experience, then of course we want to experience that too.
In work places, the research about laughing is really compelling. One study found that a group who watched a comedy clip were 10% more productive than a group who didn't watch it. Yet one of the more frequent fears expressed by managers about having fun at work is that the team will waste time "messing around".
If you had to invest in a business system to gain a 10% productivity gain, how much would that cost?
Jokes are cheap, and as a manager the best joke is you. Yes, you read that right. When you and your team can laugh at your mistakes and bad habits you send a powerful message.
We all have moments when we don't show our most intelligent aspects. Laugh at them. Share the joke with your team. Let them laugh with you. Let them learn - not only what not to do, but how to move on from it. Harvard Medical School Professor Carl Marci noted that "laughter is a social signal amongst humans. It's like a punctuation mark."
Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself, it signals that everything is OK. It allows your team to see you as a person - and that makes it a whole lot easier for those times when you need to signal that everything is not OK.
Laughter is especially important because it sends signals about your values. When we can laugh at ourselves it is usually because we have done something that is against who we would like to be.
"You wouldn't believe the stupid thing I just did" is actually telling people that you aren't stupid after all, and that you really care about it.
We know that in the most productive organisations a clarity of purpose and values is well established. We know the power of communicating your purpose and values in creating engagement, contribution, and teamwork.
Not everything will go to plan. Sometimes things will go wrong. With hindsight, they'll probably be funny. Laugh at them. It will probably not only be profitable, it will probably make you younger.
Happy new year. We hope your 2019 is full of fun and laughter.
H Agents write about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship and managing people.