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Your Business Needs a Dose of Laugh Therapy

March 22, 202452 min read

This week on "The Digital Download," we celebrate the transformative power of laughter with Barry Taylor, founder of Laugh Therapy. At a time when stress levels in the workplace are at an all-time high, Barry introduces us to a revolutionary approach that leverages humor, laughter, and play to not only reduce stress but also to foster team unity, enhance creativity, and promote a healthier work environment. Having worked across various sectors, from healthcare to education and corporate environments, Barry brings invaluable insights into building happier, more resilient teams.

In this episode, we’ll ask -

* How does laughter therapy work?

* Can humor and laughter improve productivity?

* What are some specific strategies for using laughter to reduce workplace stress?

* How can humor be effectively integrated into a corporate culture without undermining professionalism?

April is stress awareness month so Barry will join us to talk about strategies to reduce stress. He will also talk about how to make virtual meetings more engaging and how to be connected in a virtual world. In a world where digital fatigue and work-related stress are prevalent, discover how laughter can be the key to unlocking higher productivity, enhanced creativity, and a stronger sense of connection among remote teams.

Join us for a lighthearted approach to the serious issue of workplace stress. Together we will embrace playfulness as a serious tool for success.

We strive to make The Digital Download an interactive experience. Bring your questions. Bring your insights. Audience participation is highly encouraged!

This week we were joined by our Special Guest -

This week's Host was -

Panelists included -

Transcript of The Digital Download 2024-03-22

Rob Durant [00:00:02]:

Good morning, good afternoon, and good day wherever you may be joining us from. Welcome to another edition of the digital download, which is The longest longest running

Adam Gray [00:00:16]:

weekly weekly

Rob Durant [00:00:18]:

business talk show on LinkedIn Live. Now go globally syndicated on the IBGN Tracy Network. We're getting there. Good job, guys. Thank you. Today, we're sharing why your business needs a dose of laugh therapy. We have a special guest, Barry Taylor, to help us with the discussion. Barry's unique background combines the arts, education, and a deep understanding of the therapeutic benefits of laughter.

Rob Durant [00:00:54]:

Now he runs laugh therapy, an organization committed to researching and providing resources, promoting the therapeutic health benefits of humor, laughter, and play. But before we bring Barry on, let's go around and introduce everyone. While we're doing that, why don't you in the audience reach out to a Lorena, ping them, and have them join us? We strive to make the digital download an interactive experience. Audience participation is highly encouraged. Alright. With that, introductions. Tim, would you kick us off, please?

Tim Hughes [00:01:36]:

Yes. My name is Tim Hughes. I'm the CEO and cofounder of DL Ignite, and I'm famous for writing the book, Social Selling Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers.

Rob Durant [00:01:45]:

Excellent. Welcome. Thank you. Bertrand, welcome to the show.

Bertrand Godillot [00:01:52]:

Thank you very much. Thanks to the team. My name is Bertrand Godillot as by the sound of it, I'm French. I'm pretty sure you got that by now. I recently joined the the Tim here, and I am also the founder of a company called Odysseus and Co based in France.

Tim Hughes [00:02:13]:

William, Bertrand. Welcome,

Bertrand Godillot [00:02:15]:

guys. Welcome.

Tim Hughes [00:02:16]:

This is Bertrand's first show. Thank you so much for coming on.

Rob Durant [00:02:20]:

So happy to have you here, Bertrand.

Bertrand Godillot [00:02:22]:

Thank you, guys.

Rob Durant [00:02:24]:


Adam Gray [00:02:26]:

Hi. I'm Adam Gray. I'm cofounder of DLA Ignite and Tim's business partner. And, yeah. So it's it's great to have, to have Bertrand joining us today. So we'll we'll be gentle with him seeing as it's his full show.

Rob Durant [00:02:41]:

This is true. Yes. Excellent. Welcome. Thank you very much. And myself, I'm Rob Durant. I am the founder of Flywheel Results, a proud DLA Ignite partner, and I'm not famous for writing anything

Tim Hughes [00:02:56]:


Rob Durant [00:02:57]:

Yet. Okay.

Tim Hughes [00:03:00]:

Question for Before you bring on the guest Yes. I I just wanna say to the audience, if if there's if there's anybody out there, watching us or listening to us, could you say hello to Bertrand for me? Because it's it it is his first show, and I and I and I I'm I'm trying to put, like, my arm around him virtually to say, you know, we're looking forward to it.

Rob Durant [00:03:24]:

You heard it in the audience. Reach out. We'd love to hear from you. So as it happens, we're getting the dose of laugh therapy today because, Tim, as you were explaining, this is the episode that we have which is closest to April Fools' Day. Next week, we will have a rebroadcast of one of our more popular episodes because we'll be observing Good Friday. As it also happens, this will be the 3rd time in 4 weeks where our topic has centered around laughter, humor, and improv. It hasn't been by design, but it has worked out for us. As I was sharing with the team before we came on, I was speaking to my students yesterday after class, and one of them was saying, oh, I saw your show on LinkedIn, and I stopped and watched for a bit.

Rob Durant [00:04:26]:

I liked it. I usually don't like shows on LinkedIn, but yours was fun. And that's what we're going for here. A little bit of levity and bringing topics of interest to the audience at heart. So I wanna take this moment to say to the audience, if you have something to say, we wanna hear from you too. If you'd like to be a guest on the show, you're welcome to scan the QR code on screen or visit us at digital download dot live and click on the guest section. Be our guest. We would love to hear from you.

Rob Durant [00:05:12]:

Alright. I know that our guest is in the green room. There seems to be a little bit of difficulty with the camera, so we'll give him a moment to get set. While we're doing that, I need help vamping.

Tim Hughes [00:05:34]:

We we've we've had a good morning from, Ingrid.

Rob Durant [00:05:38]:

Ah, excellent. Thank you very much.

Adam Gray [00:05:40]:

So so Barry did suggest Barry did suggest the the that we kind of think about funny things that we might say. Now, unfortunately, I realized that most of the jokes that I know are not actually suitable for broadcasting. So what I did do was I I did a bit of research and have found a few a few, jokes, you know, which are, simple.

Tim Hughes [00:06:06]:

Where's Mark? I'm I'm sorry.

Rob Durant [00:06:08]:

We're having technical difficulties. Somehow we lost Adam.

Adam Gray [00:06:14]:

Yeah. No. No. I so I I thought that there were a couple that particularly resonated me, resonated with me. One of them was Tim flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like

Adam Gray [00:06:26]:

a banana. Alright.

Adam Gray [00:06:29]:

In in infantile. Or or how about, where was King David's temple located?

Rob Durant [00:06:37]:


Adam Gray [00:06:39]:

Beside his ear.

Rob Durant [00:06:44]:

Thank you for that, Adam. The good news is our guest has joined us. Barry, good morning. William. Thank you so much for joining us.

Tim Hughes [00:06:55]:

Welcome, Barry. Live a nice day, Barry.

Barry Taylor [00:06:57]:

That took me bloody ages to get up.

Rob Durant [00:07:01]:

Well, we're glad you made it.

Barry Taylor [00:07:03]:

I thought I'll reboot everything so there's not any technical issues, and it just took so long.

Rob Durant [00:07:09]:

Oh, well. No worries. No worries at all. Barry, let's start by having you tell us a little bit more about you and how you got here.

Barry Taylor [00:07:19]:

Yeah. Well, I used to work in education. I spent about 15 years as a as a teacher, teacher trainer, advanced skills teacher, and I had the most epic burnout, and thought, okay. I need to completely rethink who I am, what I do. And I stumbled across this thing called Ikigai, which is a Japanese, theory, which basically translates as your reason for being. So it kinda takes in what it is you put out, what it is that you can make money from, what your interests are, etcetera. And I kind of Tracy back, and I've had a pretty polemic life. I, was homeless as a teenager, had a pretty difficult upbringing.

Barry Taylor [00:08:05]:

Left school with only 2 qualifications, but in the in the space of about 6 or 7 years, got myself off the street into university, got myself a 1st, then got into Cambridge. That's literally how my life has always gone. So I got quite a long way in education in a very short space of Tim, and my Gray, Live, just came swooping down as the as the feathers and the wax all melted. So I I realized that the thing that I was most interested Tim, the thing that I found provided most resilience was humor and laughter. And I I kinda knew that it had a therapeutic benefit, but I didn't really understand it enough. As a teacher, I was a drama teacher, so I was used to the idea of play, the benefits of that. I never kind of worked with kids with the intention of making them Abbott, but more understanding themselves and developing empathy and so on. So it was a kind of combination of of understanding that play had benefit, playing characters selling somewhat someone else Jordan understanding other people, humor, laughter, and and education.

Barry Taylor [00:09:14]:

And so it's kind of an amalgamation of those that led me to where I am now. So what I do really is it's my own methodology, taking bits of things that I've learned, whether it's from education, from, Lactatherapy itself. Although my name my business name's Lact Therapy. I kinda take bits of lots of things. And now I do this as a as a job Rob businesses, health care, and education.

Rob Durant [00:09:39]:


Tim Hughes [00:09:39]:

Can I can I jump in and ask you a question?

Barry Taylor [00:09:42]:

Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Hughes [00:09:43]:

So so just to explain, this this this show goes out on LinkedIn Live, and other social networks that are available in video. But we're globally syndicated on the IBGN Internet Tracy, which doesn't have video. For those people listening in, how would you just subscribe your shirt?

Barry Taylor [00:10:07]:

Alright. If you imagine, a security guard, an aquarium, that's pretty much me. I'm big and bearded, and I have a bright, orange shirt with fish on it. Anybody that's watched Ted Lasso, I'm a big fan of Goldfish. If anything's bothering you, then the goldfish is the happiest animal in the world because it forgets in 3 seconds. So this huge coiff harp on this very, very loud Hawaiian shirt, and I'm a big beardie.

Tim Hughes [00:10:36]:

Can you stand up and and show us?

Barry Taylor [00:10:38]:


Tim Hughes [00:10:39]:

Oh, oh, look at that. If if we were running a if we were running a, running a a a bright shirt competition, you you you would win.

Barry Taylor [00:10:52]:

I had a t shirt on before that said, work, play, slay, which would have picked it as well. I thought that I'll wear Tim a bit louder.

Rob Durant [00:11:03]:

Perfect. So, Barry, I I wanted to start with a a basic question if we could, please. How does laughter therapy work? I mean, what are its scientific foundations?

Barry Taylor [00:11:25]:

Normally, in psychology, the things that are explored and studied the most tend to be the dark elements of psychology. And it's only really been in the last 60 or 70 years, more so in the last 20 or 30, where they Shorten to recognize the mirthful elements of psychology and neuroscience. Professor William Fry is probably one of the first people who, Freud explored it and and did a paper on it, but, William Fry is really the champion. He came up with this work called, gelatology, which I I guess is the official title of of what I am, a gelatology. Gelatology comes from the root word gelos, which is the, the ancient Greek god of laughter, and so it it's exploring the therapeutic benefits of laughter. And that's what I do. I research the benefits of laughter to mind, body, and then think of ways of applying that then in the work environment. So if we're looking at what the benefits are, there's a lot of research that's constantly developing about the mental, physical, emotional, social benefits of laughter.

Barry Taylor [00:12:40]:

So we know that when we lap, our diaphragm works, our lungs pump. That turns, obviously, oxygenate the blood, pumps around the body, so that has lots of benefit. But there's a chemical change that happens when we laugh. So if we look at it from the the the area that we know most, we know that we hear the Gray, stress is the biggest killer. So we know that when we get stressed, our anxiety rises, our muscles get Jensen. All of those things are happening. When we laugh, the production of cortisol and adrenaline, epinephrine, is immediately spent when we start the laugh. So the there's no more increase in stress when we're lapping.

Barry Taylor [00:13:20]:

It immediately centers us and brings us mindfully into the present. As well as that, the double benefit of that is that we start to produce, serotonin, positive endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, melatonin, loads of chemicals, gamma Gray. So those are similar to what's produced when we meditate. All of these things, make us harder, make us feel more safe, make us feel more connected, raises our mood, makes us more creative, problem solving. There's so much research that's coming out now of just the simple benefits of of laughter. And what I find a really fascinating thing is that, when we laugh, we can hear when someone's fake laugh, and we know that that's a fake laugh. But our brain doesn't know the difference between a fake and a genuine laugh. So our body reacts in the same way that we were mervingly lapped.

Barry Taylor [00:14:17]:

They call it to make it. So if even if you anticipate ladders, you don't see a standard medium, even if before they come on stage and when they come on stage, they don't make you laugh. Your body is already on a chemical change just because you know you're going to something that's gonna make you laugh. So all of those chemical changes are happening. So if we can find strategy ways, particularly at work where mental health is an issue, where we can make people less stressed, create more environments where people are happy, merciful, playing, joyful, we can solve a massive issue that's going on at the moment with mental health and and well-being, which is costing 1,000,000,000. I mean, the the I've got Dave's Ross sharing it a bit, but it's it's we're talking 1,000,000,000. And by 20, 20, 30,000,000,000,000, it's gonna cost the global economy because of absenteeism workplace mental health. So looking at ways in which you can turn that into something more joyful than that, that without it causing a problem for leadership in terms of productivity, then it's certainly something we need to explore and businesses need to explore as well.

Rob Durant [00:15:27]:

So, I'm glad you brought up the the workplace because one of the pressing questions that I have is, how can humor and laughter be effectively integrated into a corporate culture without undermining professionalism?

Barry Taylor [00:15:50]:

Judiciously. Being aware of when laughter is and isn't Ross. If Live, in the past, been invited in to do a workshop, it's normally to pay lip service to, boosting mood, morale, team building, etcetera. It's not great. We've ticked that box. That's mental health dealt with. And it really does need to start at the top, and it's not just something you do, as a. It it needs to be a corporate change.

Barry Taylor [00:16:20]:

It starts starts at the top. So getting people, getting the leadership to realize that they play a big part in making this change. It's not just it's not just being funny as well. It doesn't start with, oh, let's tell some jokes or because that, first of all, won't work. Everybody's humor is different. Everybody's taste and humor is different. And and what makes us laugh and joyful and happy doesn't just come from from comedy. So working out ways in which you can create enablement where we can be more creative Rob solving through play and laughter and humor that doesn't, tap into inappropriate times when humor, you know, shouldn't be in place.

Barry Taylor [00:17:00]:

If you're having a formal meeting, obviously, it wouldn't be wise to go in there dressed as a mariachi band. But, nevertheless, it's it's important at certain times when you know that the content's gonna be driving around the virtual meeting. There's nothing wrong with, in fact, it's advisable to try and engage the people on that rather dry virtual meeting where only 2 of your learning styles are being met, which is visual and auditory. And I think you've got the camera on in the first place. Thinking of ways in which you can make it kinesthetic, so more active, more engaging, is gonna make the participant in that meeting more engaged. And to someone who's perhaps not comfortable with that, that's gonna seem like, well, they're not taking my meeting seriously. We're not gonna get through this if we don't get serious. Abbott, actually, you'll probably find that if you for the sake of 3 or 4 minutes at the beginning, getting that right, you'll find you have a more engaged and productive meeting.

Adam Gray [00:17:56]:

So so what does an exercise like that to start the meeting look like? Because, I think it's safe to say that even the most miserable amongst us, likes to have a good laugh from time to time. And, you know, we can feel it doing us good when we have a laugh, particularly when we uncontrollably kind of start giggling and and and get into the swing of things. So what kind of techniques can we use at the beginning of a meeting to to get those benefits going so that people are coming with a more open mindset and more up upbeat and more of a can do and, well, we'll give it a try attitude rather than being that that wet blanket in in the meeting.

Barry Taylor [00:18:37]:

Yeah. There's there tends to be 3, possibly Live states, rather than Tracy that people come to a virtual meeting with. So you Live, in general, you have consumers. The people that are there, they're just passive. They're listening. They're taking on board what's being said, but they're not really contributing huge amounts of meetings. Then you have above that, you have contributors. So the people that are involved, they're engaged, they're given a little Abbott.

Barry Taylor [00:19:03]:

They're not being victims to, oh, it's a virtual meeting, which is the flip side to consumers, which is the critics. They're the people that kind of well, this could Live been an email rather than a than a meeting and, you know, not really contributing a lot. Above contributors, you have connectors, so people who are driving the energy in the meeting and, going above and beyond and then making social connections with other people. And you want as many people to be connected and contributed in the meeting as possible. So if you come to a meeting and people immediately have got their camera off, they're not in days. They're probably eating banana. They're dealing with the dog that's barking. Someone just come to the Rob.

Barry Taylor [00:19:43]:

Because, unfortunately, as as as beneficial having a hybrid work environment Durant we've found this with COVID, it can also be distracting. So getting people to connect right at the beginning is really important. And I think having cameras on and engaged and trying to be kinesthetic is worth those first 3 or 4 minutes. So and there's various things and Shorten activities that you can do, and that's kind of where I picked them up from as as a teacher selling kids engaged from the minute they come into the classroom. So one such way you might do it is to get people I mean, the first thing I did when I signed in here was to put my name.

Tim Hughes [00:20:21]:


Barry Taylor [00:20:22]:

Taylor, last Thursday. What you can do is perhaps get people at the start of the meeting to change their name. The the hard thing that the porn star name where you kinda come up with your dog, your your your pet's name and your mother's maiden name or whatever. But they could put their first name and a character trait that their friends say that they are most Live. So it might be that they're curious, that they're funny, that they're silly. So name and then character trait. So when people come into the meeting, there's already something that's engaging and a little bit different. One way I Live to get people to switch their cameras on is to have about 30 seconds to a minute where the cameras are off.

Barry Taylor [00:21:00]:

So you're in podcast mode, and you're just listening. And allow people in that silence just to get those things out of the way. So have a sip of your drink. Get these you know, get have that banana and just think, and then bring the cameras on together. But when you bring the cameras on, you start with a funny thing or you've got something silly on your head or there's just in that immediate moment when we don't surprise, we're all Lorena together, there's that moment that Tracy the immediately breaks what is supposed to be a really dry meeting in a, a restricted format. And then that moment of connection and laughter and small engagement between each other can then be put to one side Durant continue with the meeting. But you've already got a move that's been created that perhaps wouldn't have been there had you just Shorten straightened with your Flydows or whatever.

Adam Gray [00:21:55]:

Yeah. It's really interesting you say that because, Tim and I, often deliver training sessions together, and invariably now it is done remotely. And, you know, we'll be messaging each other on Slack, whilst it's going on. And if we're if we're in a room whereas Tim and I with our video cameras on and everyone else that hasn't, you know, I'll get a message from Tim selling, this is gonna be a tough one, isn't it? Because, you know, it it and it does feel like you're talking into a vacuum and things like that. And if if there is a mechanism to do that, and that that's a really cool idea, you know, I want everybody to have a drink, have a cough, you know, brush your hair, and then put your cameras on. It's kind of, it it's it's light Shorten, but it is a way to get them to action what you want. Because, you know, if if you're not here with your camera on, Barry, I I don't know you. And I don't know you anymore at the end of the hour than I do at the beginning.

Barry Taylor [00:22:53]:

And you're Ross less likely to contribute as well. If you know that you're you're already disengaged by not having the camera on, you're far less likely to engage from an audio perspective as well. So you really are just a spectator. You'll you've you've become, at best, a consumer rather than a a connector or a contributor, and that's not productive. That's not moving things forward. So trying to find ways to use play and and fun and laughter can be and it's proven to be more, more beneficial for productivity in the business as well. And, also, it makes it improves people's well-being. It makes the job feel a little bit more enjoyable.

Barry Taylor [00:23:33]:

And it's a twee fan, but if the work feels fun, you get more done. And that's it's a cliche, Abbott in in the main, it's the truth. You know? If you you're enjoying what you do, you're more likely to to go that extra mile, for the business and for each other, for your teams as well.

Adam Gray [00:23:49]:

Yeah. If we can just pick up on Mark's comment.

Rob Durant [00:23:53]:

I was going to do that now.

Tim Hughes [00:23:55]:

So Mark Mark is our resident, comedian, Barry.

Barry Taylor [00:23:59]:

Oh, okay.

Rob Durant [00:24:00]:

Yeah. Mark Cowelson says, I thought all these voices in my head meant I was crazy, but one of them is a laugh therapist, and he says I'm funny. And then Mark asks, Adam, is the cushion behind you made from the same material as Barry's shirt?

Tim Hughes [00:24:20]:

Oh, man. Right. Right.

Rob Durant [00:24:22]:

Radio, it is funny.

Tim Hughes [00:24:25]:

Adam is currently holding up the cushion, and it does look

Adam Gray [00:24:29]:

worryingly similar.

Tim Hughes [00:24:33]:

And and Mark also, filed for a name change. Do you wanna read that out?

Rob Durant [00:24:39]:

Sure. Mark says I actually filed for a name change. My now my name is now legally Abbott for some reason, people stop taking me seriously. They think I'm Joe King.

Barry Taylor [00:24:52]:

King. Yeah.

Rob Durant [00:25:00]:

Alright. So thank you for that, Mark. That leads me to, a question around leadership. You had mentioned leadership earlier, Barry. In what ways can leaders model the behavior of the use of humor to foster a better working environment?

Barry Taylor [00:25:25]:

I think start with the environment is probably the best thing. So look at the space. They call it I read somewhere a phrase called neuroarchitecture, and it was by, doctor Bernie Warren, an Australian, clown doctor, actually. And he did a really interesting head talk, and this Gray Oh,

Adam Gray [00:25:46]:

hold on a second. Did you say did you say clown doctor?

Barry Taylor [00:25:51]:

Yeah. Have you have you are you familiar with them?

Rob Durant [00:25:54]:

No. They're

Barry Taylor [00:25:54]:

the type of call

Adam Gray [00:25:56]:

that, please. And

Barry Taylor [00:25:57]:

a side track.

Tim Hughes [00:25:58]:

What what's a clown doctor?

Barry Taylor [00:26:01]:

A clown doctor is is someone who's medic a medical professional, either a senior nurse or a doctor who, will go around the Jordan. Not always the children's ward, it's the, you know, Adam wards as well, and will carry out their duties, but rest is a clown doing physical slapstick comedy. Obviously, not tripping over and pulling equipment down, but but engaging with them. They have props. They have a red nose. They have clown hair. Again, playing into the idea of calming people down, reducing their stress and anxiety which you have in a hospital environment, reducing, producing these, chemicals. Serotonin is a fantastic pain killer, and there's research already shown that that pain medication, from in a trial with people who took part in the LAPSA Gray, those that took part in the program required 10% less pain medication than those that didn't.

Barry Taylor [00:26:52]:

So they've really kind of tapped into this idea that making people feel relaxed, merciful, selling, it actually has benefits for health. So they dress as clowns, and it it happens all over the world. If you've seen the film, Pat Chatham

Tim Hughes [00:27:07]:


Rob Durant [00:27:07]:

Chatham is Robin Williams.

Barry Taylor [00:27:09]:

Robin Williams. That that I mean, that's a perfect example, and and Patch Adams is a real person. In fact, if you watch the film, you can see Patch towards the end of of the film. There's a scene where Robin Williams is stood in front of the committee, and he's he's justifying his reasons for not losing his medical license. And if you look just over Rob Williams' shoulder, there's a gray haired chap with a beard, and that's that's Pat Adams. He's actually an expert in the film. And that inspired a lot of people to engage with the idea of of laughter and play, for help. So go to go back to your point, this this Gray of neuroarchitecture was something that came from doctor Vernon Borreson, and it's selling, in in this case, in a hospital to think about how does the architecture, the interior of the hospital or the ward of the waiting room makes the patient Jordan a children's ward, the family who are obviously concerned about the well-being of the child, and their anxiety.

Barry Taylor [00:28:11]:

How does that make them feel? Does it make them harm? Does it harm the child down? And I think that that's something that you can apply into the workplace as well. Thinking about our people in little gray booms, and there's just nothing to engage with. And everywhere they look, it's just bland, Borgo, bits of paper pinned upon pinboards and so on. That's not gonna improve people's well-being. It's not gonna engage people in their work. It's not gonna make them happy to spend a third of their life there. So thinking about how you can make that environment more engaging Abbott, you know, a good start. We there's a a company I work with who were a call center, and we looked at different ways in which that we could make that environment more engaging.

Barry Taylor [00:28:59]:

And so we come to explore, well, what what's unique about this workplace? What what could we do that's not disruptive? So we found, well, nobody can see it because we're on we've got headsets on. We bring people up and we say, you've ordered this catalog. You haven't bought anything for a year. Would you still like to send it out? If not, we'll cancel it. And that's simply what it is. There's a script on the screen, and so they're just talking the headset. And we don't realize that we can wear what we want. We can do whatever we want.

Barry Taylor [00:29:28]:

You know, they can't see us, but we can we Live to be wearing Belgian with each other. So people brought in props, a red nose, a funny hat, or whatever, a wig. And at certain points, you kind of look across as you're dealing with a customer, and you'll see someone who's got a bright green wig on or a silly nose or a rubber chicken in the hand. And as as as silly and as cheap as the the comedy was, it just created that smile as you look across at that person Tim makes that 8 hours of repetitive calls just that little bit easier reduces that stress as well. So thinking about the environment you're in, how enjoyable. If you've got a common work area, I'm thinking about to when I was a teacher. There's one school I was at was fantastic at this. You walk into the staff room having had a really difficult year 8, year 9 class, and you're tearing your hair out.

Barry Taylor [00:30:20]:

I think I need a coffee. And you go in there, and it was a Live of activity. There was they got some of those big gender things in the south Ross. So people were playing gender in there. You've got pin Borreson the pin board, people are who've taken, like, secret photos of staff around the school and then put them on there, and they've got, like, a caption competition. So you've got Tim a funny caption that goes with that member of staff. So you go in there and read the captions. People would Live little practical jokes in people pigeonhols and stuff, and you go in there and there's something funny Tim your pigeonhole.

Barry Taylor [00:30:52]:

And in that 10, 15 minutes of grabbing a coffee, you're engaging with things that have immediately reduced that stress and anxiety, and you're going out with a smile on your face ready to face the next strokes that you've gotta deal with for an hour. So, yes, thinking about your environment. The space you're in is a really easy start because it's not about being funny. It's just just start with fun. Just try and reconnect with your child of what made you happy because you've never been more creative than when you were a child. You learn so much in a short space of time, and it cannot be underestimated how much of that is due to the conditions that we had that we've lost somewhere between leaving school and getting married, having mortgage, and life kicking in. We've gotta reconnect with that then.

Rob Durant [00:31:42]:

We have a question from the audience. Mark Borreson asks, Barry, do you use your job title, laugh therapist, when securing work? Do you find it difficult to be taken seriously?

Barry Taylor [00:31:57]:

I used to, so I don't use it. I set up the business as lap therapy because, like you said with clams doctors, people aren't even familiar that there was a thing called the lap therapist. Some people are now starting to be aware of things Live a play therapist or an art therapist or a drama therapist that deals with, you know, crisis conditions. So people don't really understand that and don't understand that the benefits that laughter has. It's not just about laughing and, don't we feel better, but there are medical benefits to it as well and social benefits in terms of teamwork and connection and creativity. So using the phrase when people don't understand it, they immediately is gonna do that, and I have found that in the past. So I Shorten to use the phrase gelatologist because that starts the question straight Gray. You're psychologist on the end of anything.

Barry Taylor [00:32:47]:

You're starting to be moving down the road and being taken a little bit more seriously. And it is a genuine form of research. And so you get that conversation going, oh, what's gelatology? So you explain what gelos gelatology is. And they go, oh, so it has therapeutic benefit. Yes. It does. You can explain it. But more often than not, it's it's it's consultant, public speaker, professional Tracy, are the ones that I use.

Barry Taylor [00:33:12]:

And then when I'm in there, I can explain the methods that I've used. Abbott more often than not, the work that I've had is people coming to me saying, I've got this group of people who they don't get on. They hate each other. Morale's at its lowest. Can you do something funny? And they expect you to go in there and just be funny and tell jokes. And they they look disappointed to me initially when I say, I'm not here to make you laugh. I'm not a stand up comedian. I just facilitate laughter.

Barry Taylor [00:33:40]:

And so over the course of a few hours or if it's, you know, a longer period of time, I'll finally come up with activities, strategies, tips to make the workplace more inventive and to get them lapping with each other. Because ultimately, I don't want to make them laugh and then go away and ask, what happens for me or not? I want them to connect with each other, and I want Tim to carry on afterwards as well. So it's really about them connecting with each other. And I did say at the start that those people can have jokes, and the reason I said that is because people expect you to have a joke and make them laugh, and I always have a a moment within my workshops where I get people to come or produce a joke or or share a joke. And we find that very quickly that humor is a very personal individual thing. Everybody has a different taste and humor, style of humor. Some people like slapstick. Some people like, parodies.

Barry Taylor [00:34:32]:

Some people like, you know, shaving Borreson people, you've been Gray of America's funny Adam and people falling off swings and stuff like that. And other people don't find that funny. So going in and trying to be funny is not the way because some people will it will land with, and they'll buy into it. And other people, Live, I don't this is not I'm not comfortable with this. It's What I wanna do? So reframe it, and so it's not about being funny, but about being inactive, being more kinesthetic, playing, allowing yourself to engage in something that's active without fear of having to perform in some way.

Rob Durant [00:35:14]:

So can can businesses measure the ROI? Can they measure the impact of integrating laughter into their operations?

Barry Taylor [00:35:29]:

Yeah. I found some research. I'm just scrolling through here to find where it was. Yeah. So here's the research. I'll read it out. Some findings about how Hughes and laughter can improve productivity. So first of all, laughter and productivity.

Barry Taylor [00:35:51]:

Study highlighted by Harvard Business Review found after watching comedy clips, employees were 10% more productive than those who didn't. Humor and competence. The same story also noted that cracking jokes at work can make individuals appear more competent, but that makes them more competent. A positive humor in the workplace. A a meta analysis indicates that positive humor is associated with enhanced work performance, satisfaction, work group cohesion, health, coping effectiveness, as well as decreased burnout, stress, work withdrawal. Playing creativity. Players know to encourage divergent thinking, crucial for creativity, and increased productivity by providing regular mental breaks, which is Live to them when you revisit the work, you're going back at a 100% again rather than gradually decreasing. It's hard to put a price on that in the in the same way as as, Deloitte, did a study that said that the the impact Tim mental health disorders in the workplace, will affect the global economy will be $16,000,000,000,000 by 20 30.

Barry Taylor [00:37:04]:

Now, obviously, that's a prediction. So, again, it's not an accurate amount, but it's it's based on trend. But I what I can say is productivity loss at the moment, unresolved depression can lead to a 35% reduction in productivity. It contributes to an annual loss of $210,000,000,000 William the US economy. And in the UK, poor mental health Ross UK employees 56 £1,000,000,000 a year with Hughes staff turnover, poor mental health, exciting reasons for leaving the job. So if we know the stress of that and absenteeism and mental health problems, burnout, people leaving businesses because they can't take it Shorten, and they wanna work somewhere Jensen. They're not happy with the the the toxic work environment, etcetera. Then looking at ways in which we can reverse that, scientific Live in which we know we can reduce anxiety, burnout, Ross, really needs to be taken seriously.

Barry Taylor [00:38:00]:

And there was some research, which I don't have, that said for every for every pound spent on programs like this, there was a Live pound return on investment. I don't know how valid that search is, but it's obviously I I did stumble across it a couple of times, and that's the UK statistic. So, I mean, it Tim makes sense from a health perspective Jordan common sense perspective, and and clearly starting to look like from a from a cost perspective as well. That taking, you know, some form of play, laughter, happiness, well-being beyond just, well, let's have a, you know, yoga class or let's have someone come and do Tai Chi for an hour. It's not not to discredit those things. It it's a it's a tick box, and it's not really looking at the culture of the business from the top down. So if I go in, I might just wanna go in, really get an idea of what what's going on in the business, come up with some strategies that fit that workplace and those teams, and then revisit after 2 or 3 months and see where we're at and whether we can take that stage further then.

Bertrand Godillot [00:39:09]:

Larry, just a quick question. I I I like very much the idea of going back, connecting back to who you were as a kid, and I also understand that you can't really learn, Hughes. So how do you how do you manage? What's what's the approach when you've got someone who, you know, doesn't want to go back to, to who he was as a kid? And, and and and on top of that, you know, he's he's a very serious guy. Does not have any sense of humor. How do you is can that be one of your customer, by the way? They they they it's it's completely off target.

Barry Taylor [00:39:48]:

Well, that's it. I mean, are they are they ever gonna likely to contact me in the first place is is is one thing. I actually received the only the only, job that I refused was, a Gray a hotel group, and a very traditional Gray. All of the senior executives were, you know, in their mid to late sixties. I was told we were very stern conservative, not into fun at all, but hate talking that this is something that they need. And I thought, yeah, You think they need it, but do they think that they need it? And and are they gonna be receptive? Well, I felt like I was I felt like Russell Crowe walking into into the gladiatorial Ross, and and I pulled out. I threw a sticky and pulled out, and I don't do that. But I just thought, you know what? This is just gonna be horrific because I'm gonna go in there.

Barry Taylor [00:40:39]:

And not only it's gonna be horrific for me, it's gonna be horrific for them. It's gonna be horrific for the poor podcast. It was the HR that's booked this. It's almost gonna feel like they've played a practical joke on them,

Tim Hughes [00:40:50]:


Barry Taylor [00:40:50]:

I just thought this isn't just not gonna work. So I think having people that are respective to it is is really important. But I I think if I sense that that this is something that was gonna be a problem, I would start a little bit lighter than that. I wouldn't go straight in and get all the props and, you know, and the silliness out of the way. But just engaging in simple activities, name the kind of icebreakers that you would expect to find at a a Jensen with meeting and work up from there. So it might just be a name game. So I I play a in order to prove the point that anxiety and stress and pressure can create Rob, and being able to relax and calm makes more productive. I normally do a name game around the table, but it's fine.

Barry Taylor [00:41:37]:

So the idea is that we start with a particular Jensen, they say their name, and then you go around the circle. As soon as that person says that name, they say their name, they say their name, and and all the way around. Once you get around the circle, you start the clock, and we see what the time is. And then we put more pressure on, say, right, you gotta do it a second faster this time. And you just keep doing that. And you find that as people are doing that, they they actually find it quite funny, and they start to laugh because pressure makes you laugh. You know, stress and anxiety can make you laugh as well. And that's often a good starting point.

Barry Taylor [00:42:10]:

So I say, okay. Right. We're gonna do it again. We're gonna go the opposite way around. But this time, I want you to say your name, and I want you to stand up, sit down. So it's almost like a Mexican one. So as they're starting to interact with this game, they're looking and seeing all these heads popping up and down. And you're starting to kind of soften them into something that they'll eventually get into.

Barry Taylor [00:42:30]:

You can't go too far, but you can start to get them off of their chair and engaging with the idea of, actually, I feel a lot better a little bit better. I feel a little bit calmer. I'm finding this quite enjoyable. Okay. What's next? And it always give people the option to stick out if they want to as well, and that comes from being a drama teacher. I was very conscious of that that a lot of the younger kids didn't have the choice. It was on their timetable whether they wanted to do it or not. I used to enjoy teaching exam groups because they've opted for it, but I was always very conscious of the students that were going in there and feeling that they Live to perform.

Barry Taylor [00:43:05]:

So I don't do a lot of laughter yoga, for example, which is something that some people might be familiar with, which is this idea of of fake it to make it you go in there and you laugh and you do exercises. And there is a benefit to it, the stretching exercises, the breathing exercises, the laughter exercises. But what I've often found is that in the first 10, 15 minutes, the real self consciousness of being in a room of people that you're not used to expressing yourself in that way with. And although they leave that session feeling better, the likelihood of them wanting to keep coming back is reduced because of how they felt in that first 10, 15 minutes. So I really do think that a soft entry into it is really, really important.

Adam Gray [00:43:45]:

So I I was gonna ask you when you were talking earlier, have you ever done one of these for a team where they just have been so incredibly unresponsive? So, you know, they've basically been sitting with their arms folded, and you've tried to get them to engage, but they're just not having any of it. And it's been Yeah. It it it's been like talking to an audience that wishes they were in a different different theater. So, what what what's the worst thing that's happened?

Barry Taylor [00:44:10]:

Right. I hope this person is watching. I'm pretty sure that they won't be. I know

Rob Durant [00:44:16]:

if he's watching. Don't worry. Just

Adam Gray [00:44:19]:

to be on the safe side.

Barry Taylor [00:44:21]:

Right. Actually, don't they what they won't have a problem with me saying this. I I did I did a workshop, for a group, for fostering and adoption. So their social service team, they were the ones who were the first responders. They would go into a really tough environment and take the children out of that environment, put them into a safe space, and, Jordan fostering and adoption for them whilst their problems are being sorted out with their parents. So it was a it was a tough job that they probably took on with them. I was told the Gray it was, they hate each other. If you can, by the end of 2 hours, stop them killing each other, the meeting will have been a success.

Barry Taylor [00:45:04]:

I thought, okay. This is gonna be a tough one. The first 10 minutes the toughest 10 minutes I've had in my life, including 15 years as a teacher in some pretty tough comprehensive schools. Immediately, when I got in there, oh, you're the coach who's gonna make a black one and tell us something funny. I like it when I tell them I'm not gonna be funny, but they're gonna do the funny. So there was a real resistance from the start, Tim it's kinda gone and, you know, on the attitude. And it so it was one of those. It was it was I realized in the planning of it that I needed to work on teamwork on a team identity, first of all, and then building up that that team ethic that, and what connects them.

Barry Taylor [00:45:48]:

So I realized that they care about this, that one connection. They clearly don't trust each other. There's a lot of kind of backstabbing and sniping, so I needed to work on making them, trust each other. So there was trust exercises. There was team building or team identity. So those are 2 things. So when I'm thinking about my strategies for doing that, I'm looking at those kind of activities. So I'm halfway back to my days as a drama teacher.

Barry Taylor [00:46:14]:

But within that, I'm thinking, okay. How can I make these activities merciful, enjoyable, engaging so that then they're starting to laugh? Because people drop their guard when they laugh. Basically, it's not disparaging humor. It's negative humor. So then people think, oh, you're laughing. We've got similar sense of humor. You're alright. You are.

Barry Taylor [00:46:31]:

And you start to make friends. So one activity I did was, I think, called an from a practitioner called Augustus Boal who, came up with a practitioner type of thing called theater of the oppressed. And it's a lot of kind of improvisational based games, and this one's called the hunter, and the hunter and the protector. And you've got people walking around the space. In their head, they've got a one person in the room who is someone that they are hunting. Alright? And the idea is they, they are walking around the space following that Jensen, but from a distance where the person who you're following doesn't know you're following them. So everybody's kind of walking on space, following somebody, but you don't know who's following you. At a certain point in the game, you change it.

Barry Taylor [00:47:16]:

Gray. There's another person who who's your protector, and you have to make sure that that person is between you and the person you're hunting all the time. As the game develops, you get people to connect with who was their hunter and who was their protector. And that moment when people put their hands on the shoulders that I was hunting you, and I was protecting you. And just that physical thing of closing the space and then touching each other and the moment of them turning us, oh, I just realized it was you. Oh, you would protect me. There's a moment of engagement of of closing down people's, circle of comfort, and inviting people in that had a massive effect. So when we talked at the end about how that workshop went, it was the best of the last 10, 15 minutes of the workshop, that was the best I ever had.

Barry Taylor [00:48:06]:

And it was quite we're one of 2 people quite social in that because there were people in the room that they felt were bullying them, that they couldn't connect with, that they didn't Tracy, and realized they their mind was playing tricks on them. They completely misjudged that person, and they'd allowed this to build and develop. I'm sure that afterwards, a week later, they probably each other again. That moment of realization that we've got something in common. You've got my back. I've got yours. We can connect at least on this level, is really important. So, yeah, you get ones that are really, really tough.

Barry Taylor [00:48:43]:

You a lot of it is in the planning. You've really gotta think Abbott, okay, what what do they need to get from this?

Tim Hughes [00:48:51]:

Fantastic. That sounds like a great, a great thing to do, Barry.

Barry Taylor [00:48:57]:

Yeah. Right.

Rob Durant [00:48:58]:

Barry, I didn't wanna let you go before touching on on this. What are some common pitfalls to avoid when introducing humor into the workplace?

Barry Taylor [00:49:13]:

Don't try to be funny, and I'm I make the mistake of doing that because of the expectation you're gonna go in there and make people laugh. You end up trying a bit too hard. I put Shorten on. It's actually that reason. You you can sometimes try a bit too hard, and that doesn't work. So Live say Tracy, particularly if you're trying to include it into the workplace as as a leader, a team leader, try not to be funny. Just try to think of ways to create fun. That might be arranging a a team building exercise.

Barry Taylor [00:49:44]:

Let's go after a comedy club after work, or let's put this in the staff room. Durant everybody to contribute to this. Something that you send out at the bottom of your email, underneath your email signature, just a funny little quote that you put in every week, that you change. It starts small, and find ways just to be one rule of humor is that, is one type of humor is incongruous humor. So the absurdity, things that you expect, and and then something else happens that kinda confuses you. So when you put a funny game as a starter into a virtual meeting, people aren't expecting that, and it's a bit silly. And that incongruity of it creates a bit of a miracle laughter. Abbott, also, the element of surprise, can create humor as well.

Barry Taylor [00:50:34]:

So doing things that are surprising or a little bit absurd is often people don't expect leadership to do this. Why did so if you've decided that the leadership team listen, guys. We're all gonna come into them. We're gonna dress like this. They're not gonna know. And so when they walk across the car Shorten they drift like a bunch of idiots, everybody's gonna buy into that straight away because here's a group of people who we think take themselves too seriously, who now are not taking themselves seriously, and you've reduced that hierarchy that was there that left them and us because suddenly the them are a little bit more like us. So Jensen if I could just be a little bit more fun and close in some of those barriers between leadership and and teams

Adam Gray [00:51:16]:

is a

Barry Taylor [00:51:17]:

really good starting point as well. Excellent.

Tim Hughes [00:51:22]:

Well, Adam and I went Adam and I went to, Joplin in the States, to to see a partner of ours. And one of the days that we were there, it was my birthday. And, the, our partner there, the the the CEO, Priscilla McKinney, she says has a rule in her company that whenever it's your birthday, you can make up a rule And as everybody has to comply with that rule. So she basically said in advance to me and said, it's your birthday. What do you want to do? What rule do you want? So I said, I want everybody to wear stupid shoes.

Barry Taylor [00:51:59]:


Tim Hughes [00:51:59]:

Yes. So I went out and bought a pair of tiger feet slippers off Gray, and, they were what I wore all Gray. And and but everybody else, they all had to wear stupid shoes.

Barry Taylor [00:52:11]:

Well, you probably know, Tim. This might happen in in other countries as well, but we have Christmas jumper day as as we Hughes most of Christmas. And just if you think about that as a concept, you know, people coming in with the most disgusting Jordan jumpers with, you know, a a a really badly knitted design of a reindeer on it. It's the most disgusting piece of fashion, but it just creates that day of of silliness. Really, if we look at it, it doesn't disrupt the day. Actually, it increases our connection as a team as we, you know, allow ourselves to be laughed out and laugh at each other in a in a safe way. That's very similar to the idea of, you know, having some funny shoes on or, you know, wearing a a funny hat there or whatever. Those are the kind of strategies that I would suggest when you go in.

Barry Taylor [00:53:01]:

So you look at look at the things that have worked before that we know work, and look at things that you could do that won't necessarily disrupt, and could add the level of mirth and reduction of of stress that you're looking for.

Tim Hughes [00:53:17]:

I I think that I don't know about you, Adam, but I think that what happened was that Adam and I were kinda dropped into, you know, small town Joplin in the States. Here we are with our British accent, you know, sounding like James Bond. And, and all of a sudden, we tell him this one day with silly Hughes on, but it did. Actually, all of a sudden, there was a connection. We we were laughing at at each other and with each other and to each other and, because you you're in control of how silly you want to be when you're picking your shoes. Yeah. And, and there was a you know, there was in effect, there was there was this common artery that was immediately created, with the team where we kind of all fitted in. There is a photo somewhere.

Tim Hughes [00:54:02]:

We were taking some photos that day, and there is a photo somewhere, of the whole of the company with their silly shoes on. I've got my tiger feet on.

Adam Gray [00:54:12]:

Yeah. I I bought a pair of clown Hughes, but one of the things that was really interesting was that this is was a small tight knit company, and we were working with a couple of the people there, but a couple of people did come in especially for that. And one of the things that it gave you was when you went to go and get a cup of coffee, you know, you're I'm standing next to you, Barry, and I look down and you got stupid shoes on, and I can go, oh, look at those. And you can go, yeah. On the face. They may be stupid, but look at yours. And and, actually, it was a great icebreaker for beginning a conversation with someone. Yeah.

Adam Gray [00:54:46]:

It's a difficult

Barry Taylor [00:54:48]:

be harmless. Yeah. Absolutely. And I think a fear that that business leaders Live, and it's the same fear that Shorten traditional kind of old school teachers have as well, that we're gonna lose control if we allow them to laugh. They're they're we're not gonna be able to Gray this back in again. And I think selling as you're in control of that and are a big part of that, there's gonna be no erosion to your authority whatsoever, as long as it's not too self deprecating. If if it becomes too self deprecating, then people are starting to look at you as somebody that's that's the and so on. So you you do like I said before, it's judicious.

Barry Taylor [00:55:26]:

You you really need to think about whether it's appropriate and how one goes with it. But the the root is is that if leadership are leading this and it starts at the top, and if and if you are in control of how much people laugh at you, then that's a really good starting point. Instead of putting the emphasis on those that are struggling with their mental health or their stress, Live, okay. Here's something for you guys to engage with. Because, really, the part the problem starts there. And until you start there, you're not gonna sort there.

Rob Durant [00:55:58]:

Barry, this has been great. How can people get in touch with you?

Barry Taylor [00:56:03]:

My website is lap therapy dotlol. So not

Tim Hughes [00:56:10]:


Barry Taylor [00:56:13]:

LOL. LOL. LOL. That's fantastic. To that topic. Yeah. That's where you can find me in this this, information strategies and so on on there. You can connect with me on LinkedIn as well, Barry Taylor, therapy.

Barry Taylor [00:56:29]:

You'll find me quite easily, and I'm happy to connect and talk to people on there as well. That's my main social media. And, yeah, and I I don't just do UK as well. I I work, you know, over in the in the States in Australia as well, because I do a lot of virtual stuff, so looking at strategies. And maybe on another occasion, we'll do some games and exercises that we can weave into a

Tim Hughes [00:56:51]:

We'd love to do that, Mario.

Bertrand Godillot [00:56:52]:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Barry Taylor [00:56:54]:

Yeah. Alright. We'll do that then.

Rob Durant [00:56:56]:

So we now have a newsletter. Don't miss an episode. Get show highlights and beyond the show insights, as well as reminders of upcoming episodes. Scan the QR code on screen or visit us at digital download dot live forward slash newsletter. On behalf of our panelists, to our guest, Barry, to our audience, thank you all for being a part of today's episode, and we'll see you next time.

#MentalHealthMatters #StressAwarenessMonth #socialselling #digitalselling #LinkedInLive #Podcast

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The Digital Download is the longest running weekly business talk show on LinkedIn Live. We broadcast weekly on Fridays at 14:00 GMT/ 09:00 EST. Join us each week as we discuss the topics of the day related to digital transformation, change management, and general business items of interest. We strive to make The Digital Download an interactive experience. Audience participation is highly encouraged!

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