What do top global brands like McKinsey, PepsiCo and Twitter all have in common? All these conglomerates swear by comedy training. Comedy training is essential to the workplace. It brings laughter to the workplace and the workplace desperately needs laughter. According to research from institutions as serious as Wharton, MIT, and London Business School, every chuckle or guffaw brings with it a host of business benefits. Laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.
- We learn to accept failure
Our first point of departure in any sort of comedy training is an acceptance that failure is okay. In fact, we encourage students to become epic failures. It is not enough to just bounce back from the failure we need to embrace the failure. In comedy training we take the failure so far in fact, we learn to get excited by it. Failure becomes an opportunity for comedy. We recognise that playing it safe does not lead to disruptive thinking and major breakthroughs. The safer route led BlockBuster Video to go out of business faster than you can say “Netflix and chill.” So, what we do in comedy training is create a safe space for employees to practice failure – both at a business and at interpersonal level. We recognise that failure is actually the key to success.
2. We learn how to be resilient
As comedians, we are so well trained in failing and dealing with the failure immediately as it occurs that we learn to bounce back from the failure much quicker than the average person. Also, because comedy training is very rarely done in isolation and a major part of the training relies heavily on team support and collaboration, we are far more likely to bounce back from failure quicker if we have the support of the team. Therefore, with the support of our colleagues we become brave in the face of failure knowing that we are going to take massive risks and receive massive rewards. We become determined to move on and this determination fosters resilience and in order to obtain any kind of success in business, you need to be resilient.
3. We learn to function in effective teams
Furthermore, comedy training is such a powerful tool in terms effective communication and impactful collaboration. In comedy training we are taught how to actively listen, assess and then react. We were taught to interact with one another more effectively through the concept of “Yes And…” We are in a state of acceptance. And because we can rely on the fact that our ideas are not only going to be heard but also be accepted, we are far more likely to contribute fully. “In my research, I’ve found that employees feel much more comfortable offering ideas when their leader has demonstrated that she is open to them. In doing so, a leader shows that she respects her employees and gives them the confidence and sense of safety needed to speak their minds.” Award-winning Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino. In effect what this means is that feeling free to fail knowing we have the support of our colleagues, builds long term resilience. It allows us to be open to criticism thus encouraging the type of robust debate and open environments that lead to long lasting business and team success.
As Eric Tsytsylin, Stanford MBA Candidate, put it in a video presentation featured on the Stanford website, working adults are “in the midst of a laughter drought.” A recent study of Gallup data for the U.S. found that we laugh significantly less on weekdays than we do on weekends. Work has become a sober endeavor. Now more than ever we need to laugh. If we can gain powerful business tools through laughter and play, everyone wins.