Laughter in the workplace reduces staff turnover
There’s a really lovely set of studies coming out from Robert Levenson’s lab in California, where he’s doing a longitudinal study with couples.
He gets married couples, men and women, into the lab, and he gives them stressful conversations to have while he wires them up to a polygraph so he can see them becoming stressed.
He’ll say to the husband, “Tell me something that your wife does that irritates you.” And what you see is immediately everybody gets a bit more stressed.
What he finds is that the couples who manage that feeling of stress with laughter, positive emotions like laughter, not only immediately become less stressed, they can see them physically feeling better. They’re dealing with this unpleasant situation better together, also these couples report high levels of satisfaction in their relationship and they stay together for longer.
So in fact, when you look at work relationships, laughter is a phenomenally useful index of how people are regulating their emotions together. We’re not just emitting it at each other to show that we like each other; we’re making ourselves feel better together.
As we get older, we tend to have less uncontrollable helpless laughter, and more controlled laughter.
Posed laughter, we might think it sounds a bit fake. Actually, it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually an important social cue. It creates a bond with person we are laughing with.