Catching up with Karyn

Lead with Laughter!

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership.”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

The secret for effective humor in leadership is to set the tone for humor, while at the same time, set high expectations. Effective leaders understand that there are three primary benefits for using humor with their staff: Stress management, communication, and motivation.

Stress management
“Terminal professionalism” seems to be a sign of the times. But taking oneself too seriously can have some unpleasant side effects. According to a recent Gallup Poll approximately 1 million employees in the US miss work daily due to stress related conditions. Stressed out workers make costly mistakes; sometimes even deadly ones.

Humor is recognized as a healthy coping mechanism (as compared to unhealthy means, such as smoking, drinking, drugs, excessive work, etc). It is by no means the be-all-end-all. Today people need a variety of coping mechanisms to survive and thrive. Melodie Chenevert, author of...

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Today’s Nursing Crisis: A Laughing Matter?

Did you hear the one about…?  According to a recent study, one of every three U.S. nurses surveyed under age 30 plans to leave their jobs within the next year. One in five nurses plans to leave the profession within five years because of unsatisfactory working conditions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 450,000 additional registered nurses will be needed to fill the present demand.  Experts worry about the year 2020, when the registered nurse shortage is projected to reach 500,000 positions, coinciding with the increasing needs of healthcare in an aging U.S. population.

It is obvious that the state of health care today is no joke.  But it may be a laughing matter, if one understands the premise that humor oftentimes is generated by painful circumstances.  There is nothing funny about unlimited resources, job security or a physician who responds quickly and cheerfully to a nurse’s request. The things that make nurses laugh tend to be the...

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Stress Busters

There’s no one coping mechanism that will work for every stressful occasions. People need a variety of skills to stay healthy. These could include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation just to name a few.  But the benefits of humor and laughter are so plentiful, so convenient, and so cost-effective that people would be foolish to leave these awesome coping tools out of their coping toolbox.

Here are a few quick stress busters. Try one the next time your energy level drops and your attitude is sagging:

Call your own answering machine or voice mail to leave a humorous message that you can enjoy later. Bonus—you get to laugh twice: Once when you leave the message and again when you play it back.  (For example: “Just calling to remind you to be careful when you go by the post office to pick up stamps and be sure to wear clean underwear because you never know when you might be in an accident!”)

Keep a file folder at your...

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Humor: The Heart of the Matter

Scientists continue to support what we’ve known to be true since Biblical times: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  Studies in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) have demonstrated that humor, laughter and positive emotions have a positive effect on the immune system, the respiratory system and now evidence shows a link between a healthy heart and a sense of humor.

A team of Maryland medical researchers found in a study of 300 people (half of whom had histories of heart problems) that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in humorous situations than those with healthy hearts.  “The old saying that laughter is the best medicine definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart,” said Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventative Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The people with heart disease were much less likely to even recognize humor. They also laughed less, even...

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Humor, Cancer and Chronic Illness

“I’m not afraid of dying.  I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”  Woody Allen

Pat’s hand gripped mine tightly– her eyes glistened with mischief. “I so look forward to your visits. Everyone else around here is so darned serious!  I wish they’d just lighten up a little.”  I looked around the room and she was right. Her 58-year-old husband and 32-year-old daughter sat on the couch, looking as if a smile would shatter their faces into a million pieces.  “Tell me something funny that happened to you this week,” she continued. “What’s that little boy of yours been up to now?”

Pat was one of several patients that I made home visits to as a nurse, following up after her chemo and radiation for a tumor in her neck and jaw. Physically she was doing fine and her outlook was tremendous. However, her family had an attitude that could sink a battle ship. Even though Pat valued...

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Humor Appreciation: Taking It to The Next Level

I sipped my coffee and listened to my friend vent about her company’s merger. “I was so stressed out about the new changes being implemented at work,” Susan explained while rolling her eyes. “Then someone said something silly and I just lost it. I laughed and laughed until I was limp as a dishrag. Nothing had changed, but I just felt better for having laughed!”

It’s becoming accepted knowledge that positive benefits can be acquired from appreciating humor and laughter. Psychologist Michele Newman supported previous studies that found humor has a buffering effect and reduces the negative effects of stress. This study extended previous findings by demonstrating that humor is beneficial even for people who do not typically choose to use it to cope with stress. This finding was consistent with the belief that the ability to use humor to cope can be acquired rather than being a fixed, unchangeable trait.”

“Humor appreciation involves...

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What was he thinking?!

Obviously, he wasn’t. Thinking, that is. Michael Richards, better known to the world as Kramer, took his funny and light-hearted image he’d established over his successful career with Seinfeld, and flushed it down the tubes. I can just picture him skidding into Jerry’s apartment, shaking like an electrically charged, over-caffeinated baffoon, uttering “Oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh nooooooooooooooooo!”

“Oh no” is right. Whether you’re dealing with hecklers, irritable coworkers or cranky customers—insulting them is a bad idea. Comediennes anticipate that these things will happen, and they have comebacks that are so practiced that they can appear to be spontaneous—but few professional comics will leave those situations to chance.

There’s something you can learn from Michael Richards’ common sense infarct. We all have times when have to deal with hostility from others. A lot of times, if we’d thought about it,...

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When Humor is Part of The Corporate Culture

I had the chance to sit around the table with the most fun bunch of people recently. They weren’t humorists or comediennes—but they were funny as all get out—kind of like Seinfeld meets healthcare. And they love their work.

Moe Green, founder of Classic Care Pharmacy started his business 10 years ago with a handful of people. Today he has over 120 employees and services 125 long term care facilities. The corporate culture is fun, and his staff and his customers are raving fans.

While having lunch with two of the team (Judy and Girish) they told me they hate to miss even a day of work. “There’s something going on everyday, and most of the time it’s fun!” they said. Apparently the rest of the staff agrees with them. The camaraderie and team spirit is palpable when you walk in the office.

As far as retention goes, people who come on board tend to stay on board. “We don’t brag too loudly to others about how good we have it...

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Improv Your Customer Service

My youngest son, Adam, is a student at Second City, the school of improve in Chicago, the springboard for so many of the Saturday Night Live cast. Finally people who can appreciate what his high school teachers could not—his comedic genius! (How many trips to the principal’s office for entertaining his classmates?)

Recently I asked him how he was applying his lessons at Second City to other areas of his life (hoping that my tuition dollars were getting the most bang for the yuck, so to speak). I was pleasantly taken aback by the wisdom he has acquired. He works evenings waiting tables (as many starving artists do) at a local restaurant/jazz club: Andy’s Jazz Club. (For those of you living or visiting Chicago, definitely check this place out—great food and great music [and amazing waiters—at least on certain nights…]).

He explained that the two most important rules of Improv are 1) Never say no. Whatever the situation, say yes—take whatever...

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What happened to The Journal of Nursing Jocularity?

healthcare Aug 21, 2008

Thanks for asking. I was Vice-President of the JNJ during its eight year stint and best friends with publisher, Doug Fletcher. Doug had a great vision when he created the JNJ and left a tremendous legacy. His untimely death, and the deaths of our friends and colleagues Bob Diskin (Too Live Nurse), Georgia Moss, and Diane Rumsey, left a huge void in the world of healthcare humor. In Doug’s honor, AATH has named its Lifetime Achievement Award after Doug (see www.aath.org)

Below is an announcement I created when we ceased publication of the JNJ. Barely a day goes by that I don’t think of Doug and smile.

The Journal of Nursing Jocularity was a quarterly publication for nurses and health professionals that was written, edited, illustrated and published by nurses and health professionals. The first issue was Spring, 1991; the last issue was the Spring, 1998. Filled with satire, true stories, cartoons, and all around funny stuff related to nursing and health care – it...

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