Since I work from home (yes, one of the benefits of working for a conferencing company is that it’s easy to stay connected from anywhere), I try to get out during my lunch hour for a little face-to-face interaction. While I’m in my car, I’m able to catch one or two of my favorite shows from the local NPR station.
Recently on The State of Things, the topic was the role laughter and humor play in conversations. One guest speaker was a professor at North Carolina State University who talked about a study that looked at laughter in jury deliberations during a death penalty case. The other guest speaker, Rog Bates, works for the Carolina Health and Humor Association. Apparently laughter and humor are such a large and important part of our lives that it is worthy of an actual association.
The discussion got me thinking about laughter in the office I used to work in and even now during the audio conference calls and web conferences I’m in. The speakers on the show pointed out that laughter is used for:
- Relieving stress
- Breaking tension
- Making things ‘ok’
I would also add ‘just having fun’, but that might not be a true academic reason. I definitely agree, though, that I’ve experienced all these things plenty of times. In some cases, the laughter serves its purpose and does help people relax and loosen up. Other times, however, I’ve found it to sort of gloss over a controversial or uncomfortable situation, only to leave people feeling slighted or that an issue hasn’t really been resolved. And, when you are in a virtual meeting, if you aren’t using a web cam, you don’t have the benefit of seeing people’s facial expressions to know if they are smiling or gritting their teeth.
What have you experienced with laughter in your office or online meetings? Would you say it is a must have, sometimes appropriate or there’s no room for it in business?