Laughter, an internationally recognised communication
"The act or an instance of communicating; the imparting or exchange of information, ideas or feeling." - The Collins dictionary definition of communication.
Laughter is a form of communication that all humans recognise and do in the same way. No matter where in the world we live, we all have the ability to laugh. Laughter transcends status, class, age, race and culture - and, no matter where we live in the world, we all laugh in a similar way.
I always find it fascinating that something so accessible and familiar to us, almost goes unnoticed. It is certainly not valued for the wonderful power it has and the amazing benefits it gives us physically, emotionally and socially.
We learn to laugh before we can speak. It’s one of the first ways we learn to communicate with our caregivers. As babies, we smile and laugh before we talk and we quickly learn that laughing gets positive responses from the people around us. From an early age, we recognise that our laugh gets others to laugh too and soon we are sharing our gift of laughter with everyone we meet.
Laughing is something we enjoy because laughter fires off feel-good hormones called endorphins. Have you ever tried not smiling at someone who smiles at you? It’s not easy, is it? That’s because we learnt this response when we were a baby and it is now almost like a trigger or a positive anchor.
As we get older, we learn new behaviours and get wrapped up in other ways of communicating. We sort of forget how to be joyful and this, in turn, impacts on the quality of our relationships and health.
Laughter is a great human connector
Relationships that share positive experiences (laughter) tend to be better able to cope with challenges and stresses. It has been said, “People who laugh together stay together”.
When we laugh with someone, we experience what they are feeling and this creates a connection. The shortest distance between two people is said to be a smile - and laughing is a smile with the volume turned up. When we laugh with someone we are completely connected, feeling what they are feeling and sharing a positive emotional experience.
Rediscovering how to bring more laughter into your communication strategy can have an amazingly positive impact on you and those you interact with. People like being with others who make them feel good (just as we did when we were babies) and as we all have mirror neurons, we mirror what we see in others. When you laugh and smile more, you will notice others laughing and smiling more too!
"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi.
Let’s explore the benefits of laughter:
- We are more tolerant of people we laugh with.
- We feel more connected to people we laugh with.
- Laughter encourages creativity - a great tool asset at work.
- Laughter releases feel-good endorphins.
- Laughter reduces stress.
- People that laugh regularly tend to be healthier.
- Laughter boosts the immune system and brain function.
One way to create more laughter in your world is by inviting it in and practising your laughter skills. You literally have to wake up your chuckle muscles with laughter exercises.
Yes, laughter exercises.
In our workplaces, we could do with more of this positive communication/connection. Laughter helps us have healthy and effective relationships. In a busy workplace, often people only talk to one another when they need something or when something is not going right. This, of course, means that, often, the only contact colleagues have with each other is negative. Negative communication or lack of communication effects mood and motivation; people can become defensive and demotivated.
Laughter sessions are a great way to redress this balance. By encouraging teams to connect with each other through laughter, they begin to share positive experiences with one another. Laughter is a great stress reliever too. It re-oxygenates the body, boosting the immune system and brain functions as well as releasing feel good endorphins.
Once the chuckle muscles have been reawakened, the laughter spreads out beyond the sessions and people notice more and more reasons to laugh. Because laughter is contagious (those mirror neurons we have), laughter is re-established as a healthy part of our business communication. This feel-good feeling is then associated with the people/place we laughed with, topping up our internal positive representation of that person/place. With laughter, people become more positive resilient and feel happier.
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