Tips& Tricks for Leaders

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Laughter Will Keep Your Team Connected. Laughter is known to be physically and mentally good for you. But it is primarily a social activity, and in a world working from home, where social contact with colleagues takes place virtually through video conferences, it will not occur spontaneously. It is up to leaders to make laughter happen. Read more

Laughter Will Keep Your Team Connected
Laughter is known to be physically and mentally good for you. But it is primarily a social activity, and in a world working from home, where social contact with colleagues takes place virtually through video conferences, it will not occur spontaneously. It is up to leaders to make laughter happen
Normally people laugh about 18 times per day. And 97% of that time we’re laughing with others — we are 30 times more likely to laugh with others than to laugh alone.
When we laugh, our body releases two key chemicals. Endorphins that interact with receptors in the brain to help relieve pain and trigger feelings of pleasure. In fact, studies show that people can endure 15% more pain simply by laughing for a few minutes beforehand.
Second, when we laugh, our brain releases dopamine — a neurotransmitter that creates a sense of euphoria. Dopamine can enhance learning, motivation, and zinvolved include improved immune functioning, stress relief, increased tolerance for pain, improved cardiovascular health, reduced anxiety, sense of safety, and improved mood. Laughter is also associated with higher motivation and productivity at work.

So, what can you do as a team leader to mitigate these effects? When taking on the job, you might not have thought that it would be your job to influence the body and brain chemistry of your teams But in today’s home-alone, virtual team world, that’s exactly what you should be doing: for your team members to stay healthy and productive, you need to get them to laugh more and stress less. Does that mean that you need to become a comedian? Not at all. But it does mean that you need to take deliberate steps to foster some laughter. Here are five concrete steps you can take to do that:

1. Slow down. Most leaders feel that they need to make every virtual interaction as fast and efficient as possible. When virtual interaction is all people have, this is a mistake. In these times of isolation, an important part of a leader’s job is to socially, psychologically, and emotionally connect and reconnect the team and not just get work done. Laughter is one of the best ways to do keep a team emotionally connected. But you need to give it time and space, even if you have to put off some of the actual work.

2. Get the video working. Humans are amazingly good at reading both visual and auditory clues and cues when it comes to laughter. The more channels you can give them to give and read cues the better. For that reason, make sure that all your people can and do attend via video because that will increase the cue-flow for laughter.

3. Smile a lot and talk in a slightly higher voice. People naturally look to the leader of a meeting for signals as to what is okay in terms of behaviour, including permission to laugh. The simplest and strongest facial signal that laughter is okay is a genuine smile. The key is the pitch of your voice. Almost regardless of culture, a slightly higher pitch in your voice signals that you want to set a lighter rather than more serious tone for your group.

4. Set the example. Because like a yawn, laughter sparks laughter, perhaps nothing is more powerful in generating some laughter in your team than laughing yourself. However, just as people can generally differentiate between genuine and fake smiles, they can tell the difference between a real and a forced laugh — which leads to the final recommendation.

5. Get in the mood yourself. You need to start with your own chemistry ahead of any meeting. It’s easier to keep laughter (and its neurochemicals) going than it is to start cold in front of all the faces on your Zoom page. Ideally, get yourself laughing — even for just a few seconds — in advance. I’d advise watching a funny video just before the meeting starts.

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