Welcome back, Creative Juice readers!  We are spotlighting different unique meeting vendors to give you a taste of who you’ll meet at the Creative Meeting Carnival on February 23 at Catalyst Ranch!  Today’s blog is from Julie Ostrow of Find the Funny!

Have you ever worked in an environment where laughing was frowned upon?

Have you ever worked where you were not allowed to have fun but instead were instructed to keep your head down, do your work, and not to make any waves?  The ‘not making waves’ part may be an unspoken rule in the workplace.

Not only is laughter good for the immune system, but healthy humor is also beneficial to making and keeping the work environment positive and productive.

Stressors. We all have them. Whether we create them or we believe others have created them for us.

We are surrounded by pressure, stressors, and deadlines.

You may have heard that how we handle a situation or react to a situation has more of an impact on our lives—and health—than the situation itself.

Okay. Great.  I just acknowledged that there are stressors in life and in the workplace.

That concludes this article.

Just kidding.

You’ve got stressors.

How do you handle them? You may have read or come across articles about how to reduce your stress levels, and more importantly, why it is important to have low stress levels.

According to WebMD’s Stress Management Health Center,

  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.

Mindfulness, meditation, getting enough sleep, and eating right are ways to combat stress.

Finding the funny, turning on your humor button, has many benefits.

What worked for me in my work life was to always find the funny . . . even in stressful moments. Even when my bosses (I reported to three to five managers at any given time) were all demanding I meet the same deadlines and stay within the budget. Although working for the world’s largest association management firm was one of the best jobs a first-time marketing professional could get, the job was riddled with constant deadlines and demands. Since our department’s main responsibility was to promote and market our clients’ organizations and meetings, deadlines could not be missed. Perfectionism was highly encouraged. Perfectionism under tight deadlines was put on a pedestal. So, I realize my bit of OCD may not have been inherited.

How did I manage in an environment with so many demands? Being in my 20’s, stress worked to my advantage. I lost weight. Now, that I’m in my 40’s, stress takes a different toll on my body. I don’t sleep as well. And, most disappointing, I have stored enough cortisol (the stress hormone) in my belly to sell it on the black market.

No matter what job I have held—whether as an assistant at an association management firm or as a marketing manager at a pharmaceutical company—I had stressors.

And, no matter what, I ALWAYS found reasons to laugh and to find the humor.

Laugh, even by yourself. I did. I would be laughing in my cube after just thinking of something funny. And, co-workers would poke their heads into my cube and ask what was so funny? I’d answer (while laughing), “Oh. I don’t know. Just something I thought of.”  I couldn’t explain what I was laughing at. (And, honestly, I don’t remember what I was laughing at.)

But, here’s the key: It didn’t matter that my co-workers didn’t know what I was laughing at.

Just seeing and hearing me laugh made them laugh. As they walked away from my cube, I could still hear them laughing . . . Ahh . . . the sweet sound of laughter success.

How to have fun at work: Connect with your co-workers

Q: How can I have fun at work?

A: Connect with co-workers who have the same sense of humor.

Q: What if we don’t have the same sense of humor?

A: If you don’t have the same sense of humor, that’s ok. You can connect with others by using improvisation skills – just like the ones used in improv comedy.

Q: How can improv skills help me connect with my co-workers? I don’t even think we are that funny.

A: Improv skills aren’t about who is funny and who is not. Improv skills involve listening—truly listening—to others; Give-and-take—building onto what others have to contribute; “Yes, And . . .” – “Yes, And” doesn’t mean saying, “yes” to everything like Jim Carrey did in the movie, Yes Man, but it establishes the foundation that we/you won’t negate every idea that a team member says. The “Yes, And . . .” allows time for us to accept and idea, breathe on it and consider it as a possibility. On the contrary, if “No” is used every time an idea is brought up or suggested, team members will increasingly limit sharing their ideas. Ultimately, this will lead to low morale, decreased productivity, and possibly people leaving the company.

Find your laughter and humor peeps. You might not have a humor connection with everyone. You might not even connect with the people on your team. The key is to connect with them in a different way.

You don’t have to ‘get’ someone’s humor to connect with them.

Humor—healthy humor—laughter, and improvisation bring people together. When you are connected with others through a positive commonality, such as seeing and laughing at the absurd, it fosters a connection. That connection ignites rapport. When there is rapport, there is a connected team.

And, when there is connection and rapport, team members are more likely to work together. This ultimately leads to higher morale, lower employee turnover, and increased productivity.

Julie Ostrow

Julie Ostrow

American Laughing Champion, Second City-trained Julie Ostrow is a Humor, Laughter, and Improv Coach who teaches organizations and corporate teams to use Improv 2 Improve to develop Creativity, Communication, Team Building, and Innovation with her clients and within their organizations. As a certified laughter yoga leader, she conducts humor and laughter workshops in which she teaches the benefits of using humor and laughter in all aspects of our lives, including in the workplace. Having more than 15 years of corporate experience as marketing professional, Julie is able to identify the trigger points of miscommunication and low morale in the corporate culture. By infusing her corporate experience with her humor, laughter, and improv tools, she is able to guide organizations to greater communication, connection, and creativity. Julie conducts humor, laughter, and improv workshops for corporations, healthcare organizations, conventions, and schools, resulting in re-inspired teams and increased productivity.

Find Julie at www.GoFindTheFunny.com

Meet Julie and hear her incredible laugh for yourself at the second annual Creative Meeting Carnival at Catalyst Ranch on February 23!