March 25th, 2007
An NHS Trust in Liverpool is considering sending employees on a course on communicating through humour:
Stephanie Davies, creative director of Laughology Ltd, who works with the trust, points to scientific reasons why laughter makes people not just happy, but healthy too: it lowers dopamine levels, the chemical associated with elevated blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and triggers release of endorphins, which produces a general sense of wellbeing.
But she also believes that laughter can be a powerful tool for increased productivity and efficiency: 'It is really important that we, as a society, come away from assuming humour is all about silliness and look instead at its serious side. People too often think that because someone's laughing, they're not working efficiently or effectively. But humour can defuse workplace conflict, reduce general stress, unite people, build morale and motivate people.'
You unite against something or someone; I hope management won't be too upset if it turns out they're the butt of the joke.
So what's funny? It has to be the right humour, said Davies. Sex, race, ethnicity, politics and religion are out as are sarcasm or jokes that put people down or make them feel bad in other ways. Practical jokes are also dangerous: they can too easily backfire and cause humiliation and embarrassment.
So what's left? Safe workplace humour, said Davies, should be focused on inanimate objects or turned back on to the person making the joke. 'Once you're looking at the world through a comedy eye, there's humour in what happens to you on the way to work in the mornings. Everyday stuff about families or innocent mix-ups in the office.'
"Looking at the world through a comedy eye" and working for a company called "Laughology Inc". Are we completely certain that Stephanie Davies isn't Ricky Gervais in drag? Have the two of them ever been seen in the same room at the same time? I Think We Should be Told.