Are you conscious of the way you laugh around certain people? Or are you the kind of woman who isn’t afraid of expressing herself anywhere? Funnily enough, science reveals that your laughter shows a lot about your social status and professional power.
“Just by listening to a single instant of someone’s laughter, a one second sample of the way someone laughs, you can gain some insight as to their status in a group,” shares University of California San Diego assistant professor Christopher Oveis with Quartz.
According to one of the most recent studies done by Oveis’ team which studied 48 members of a fraternity, those who were considered to be high-status or long-time members laughed louder, at a higher pitch, and with less inhibition, than those under them.
“High-status laughers were more disinhibited, willing to take up more space with their voice, versus low-status laughers, who were laughing submissively and were more constrained,” says Oveis. “It is only when we put low-status laughers into that commanding position that they could feel that power to let those dominant laughs go.”
While a dominant guffaw from a position of power can appear cocky to onlookers—or worse, give away subtle hints of hidden insecurities—the ability to honestly laugh about yourself with your peers is a signal that you’re comfortable with who you are, no matter what position you may be. Humor is a good way to increase camaraderie among your colleagues, and inadvertently builds your confidence and causes others to view you as someone sure of herself.
“Humor can be used to get ahead in the workplace,” Dr. Gran H. Brenner writes on Psychology Today. “When someone tells a joke and it works… the joke teller is viewed as having greater confidence, competence, and status. Furthermore, these folks are more likely to be given leadership positions.”
So how can you make laughter work for you at work? Here are a few things you can try:
1. Keep things kind.
Humor can be a great asset to anyone, as long as it doesn’t go beyond personal boundaries. What may be funny to you may be offensive to others, so take your cue from the people around you, and don't use jokes to put down others.
2. Enjoy your team’s light and funny moments.
Take breaks and allow yourself to chill with your team. Find humor in simple things and use these to connect with the people you work with. Remember that you shouldn’t try too hard—let things flow and remain spontaneous. Great moments happen when they’re not forced to manifest.
3. Laugh at yourself.
You’ll make a mistake at one point or another, and it’s okay. You’ll find a solution somehow, so find the courage to laugh at yourself. This doesn’t mean that you’re taking light of a potentially disastrous situation. It only means that you’re willing to look at the brighter side of things and are trying to make things less somber for your team.
4. Laugh with your team.
When the going gets tough, laughter can be a good way to keep your sanity intact. It also shows that you’re confident enough to own up to your flaws. “When you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally ‘looking bad,’” writes Jeff Haden on INC. “You realize that that when you're genuine and unpretentious, people don't laugh at you. They laugh with you.” And that’s what matters.