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To succeed at work, laugh a little

April 08, 2014

Two atoms are talking to one another, and one of them says, "I think I've just lost an electron."
The other says, "Are you sure?"
And the first responds, "I'm positive."

The beginning of April marked Laugh at Work week, an initiative that aims to bring a little more laughter and lightness into the workplace. Why? Laughter has a whole range of benefits, from reducing stress to forging relationships among co-workers. For that reason, IT talent management planners and employees alike should seek ways to inspire a few chuckles.

Lightening stress levels in IT careers
From IT support teams to network engineers, tech pros are often under a lot of stress and have to confront frustrating situations in their day-to-day activities. Numerous studies have pointed to the detrimental effect that negative attitudes and tension can bring to bear on productivity, health and, ultimately, the bottom line. In fact, Fairleigh Dickinson University Magazine estimated that stress and its consequences (absenteeism, lower productivity, turnover, workers' comp, healthcare costs and other expenses) cost business about $200 billion every year. Since information technology companies aren't exactly noted for their low-stress roles, it's important for IT pros and managers to do what they can to reduce the tension.

Maintaining a fun, upbeat atmosphere can help you to take irritating encounters a little more lightly, ultimately contributing to lower stress levels and increased job satisfaction. For example, what IT help desk worker hasn't had a call resembling the following joke?

A customer couldn't get on the Internet.
Helpdesk: Are you sure you used the right password?
Customer: Yes, I'm sure. I saw my colleague do it.
Helpdesk: Can you tell me what the password was?
Customer: Five stars.

The myriad benefits of laughter
Whether it's a quick smile or hearty peal of laughter, enjoying some funnies has short-term and long-term effects. Referring to multiple studies, Forbes magazine noted that laughter has health benefits, such as reducing the sensation of pain and protecting against heart disease. It also builds positive attitudes and helps forge a sense of community, both of which can increase job satisfaction and fuel collaborative efforts.

"It is less likely for a person to succumb to stress and feelings of depression and helplessness, if one is able to laugh away the[ir] troubles," said Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, and the founder of Laughter Yoga, according to the source. reported that studies have shown how laughter increases emotional intelligence, contributes to better blood sugar levels, improves sleep patterns, boosts the immune system and reduces stress hormones. A good belly-shaking can even burn as many calories as ten minutes of intense rowing.

Putting humor to work
In addition to sharing work-appropriate jokes, GIFs and pictures with colleagues, IT pros and supervisors should try to integrate laughter into company activities on a regular basis. recommended mindset adjustments, such as not taking yourself too seriously. People can also bring some humor into meetings and presentations to foster positivity from the start. In all of these efforts, however, it's critical to enjoy the right type of humor, particularly among co-workers.

"Any humor that enhances the self or a group at the expense of others is unhealthy," said Deb DiSandro, an author and humorist, according to "You also don't want to over-use self-deprecating humor to an extreme because others may not take you seriously or value your opinion as a result."

As Business Insider noted, many talented professionals thrive in demanding IT jobs. However, stress and challenges can throw off even the most skilled, ambitious worker. So take to heart Charlie Chaplin's admonition that a day without laughter is a day wasted and laugh at work today.

A programmer's wife tells him, "Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen."
The programmer returned with 12 loaves of bread.

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