Kate Hawkesby: Workplaces are ruining our sense of humour

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Dawn French recently said that cancel culture is killing comedy and it’s hard to disagree with her.
She said it’s in the edges, where you find the real comedic gems.. and the edges are so heavily policed now, most comedians can’t even go there. But if your sense of humour may be at risk in a stand up comedy gig.. guess where else it’s in jeopardy?
Your workplace. Researchers have warned that entering the workplace kills off your sense of humour.
It gets worse – that damage is apparently not undone until after you retire. According to a workplace happiness and humour survey in the US, “as soon as we enter the workforce we try to conform to the formal atmosphere of many offices.” Business scholars from California surveyed over a million people.. “they found that people typically end up laughing significantly less, after the age of 23.”
One report cites a Stanford School of Business Psychologist who says that, “the collective loss of our sense of humour is a serious problem afflicting people and organisations globally.”
So when we get to work, we smile less, we laugh less. This reports states that the average four year old child laughs 300 times a day, while a 40 year old would take 10 weeks to rack up that many laughs. Is that or is that not depressing?
Are you getting ready for work this morning with a smile on your face? Or an impending sense of doom?
How formal and stifling is your workplace? Do you feel the humour drain out of you as you go through the office doors?
Is that perhaps a reason why more and more people are choosing to work from home these days? It’s less intense? It’s less formal?
One of the side effects of serious office jobs is that apparently we see ourselves as suddenly more important, therefore requiring more seriousness. We put that on ourselves, we are assuming we need to take on a role.
I must be in the wrong office or the wrong job because I don’t find that at all. Sure, work can be serious at times, but there’s lots of levity around. Working with people with good senses of humour helps I suppose, and people who don’t take things too seriously. But researchers now say being able to have humour in the workplace can be your ‘superpower’.
There is, I kid you not, a course now, on actually teaching smart business brains and minds inside workplaces, how to bring more humour. They say humour can improve creativity and problem solving, it can add levity to the atmosphere. But the minute you’re teaching it, instructing people on ‘how to add humour’ .. surely that’s taken the humour out of it?
I did take heart from my son yesterday, who admittedly is not at the 'less laughter' age of 23 yet.. but he was off to pick up a Pink Panther costume to wear to his work for a Breast Cancer fundraiser. It gives me hope that even in this button down PC serious woke world.. there’s still room for people to go to work in a Pink Panther suit, for a good cause.

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