Humor-induced laughter on the decline: not so easy after all
Tough economic times and the perpetual threat of layoffs are gnawing away at our collective funny bone. That on top of years of ballooning political correctness in workplaces have clamped down on humor-induced laughter. And that’s bad news for productivity, creativity and the general well-being of workers, say HR and humor experts.
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“It’s a natural tendency for some folks to tighten up during tough times, but we need to lighten up,” warns Joel Goodman, founder of The Humor Project Inc.
Goodman believes it was no accident that during the Great Depression, the heyday of comedy emerged with people like the Marx Brothers and Jack Benny. Here’s a great one that came from Groucho Marx in the 1931 movie “Monkey Business”: “I’ve worked my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.”
Such a wave of humor, witnessed during the Depression, has yet to hit many of the nation’s businesses, Goodman says, and it’s sorely needed “in order to balance the seriousness of the times.”
What’s exacerbating the joylessness this recession has spawned, some believe, is decades of joke slap-downs in offices and factories.
“The whole issue of political correctness has gone too far when it comes to the criteria for determining an offensive comment,” says Thierry Guedj, workplace psychology expert and professor at Boston University. “If anybody is offended, then it’s offensive. The criteria has become much too personalized. It only takes one person being slightly upset at something for it to become offensive.” It started in the 1980s, he continues, got worse in the 1990s and “has now reached its maximum.”
[Note from the editor: we have said it before and we’ll say it many times again: there is a much easier, vastly more powerful and infinitely more empowering way to approach laughter that does not involve humor. It’s called Laughter Yoga. Check it out and see for yourself.
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