Book Review: “The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up” by Adrian Gostick, Scott Christopher

100 best companies to work for yield 14.16% vs S&P’s 5.97% and Russell 3000’s 6.34% return.

Levity Effects:
Humor -> Communication (Enhance negotiation skills, build rapport between leaders and employees, grab attention, relax listeners, making them more receptive to your message, make the information more memorable.
More efficient meetings (improved decision making, braking down barriers). Informal relationships with employees (sense of belonging). Remarkable presentations (zap rule: audiences needs a zap at least every 3 to 6 minutes during a presentation to stay focused and interested). Training that sizzles. Humorous communications (voicemail announcement, emails) Bottomline: your people will be a hundred times more likely to follow you and produce for you, if you can simply lighten your communication up a bit.
7 proven ways levity will keep ’em awake in your presentation: 1. Relax (You have to relax. You must be calm. Don’t forget. You’re just talking to people.) 2. Begin with a joke. 3. Talk to the audience, not at them. 4. Empathize with the audience. 5. Add levity. 6. Be human. 7. End on time and with a finish.

Fun -> Creativity (innovation) 1. Make the work environment more fun. 2. Expose and awaken latent funness from more serious employees. 3. Hire employees who are more fun and creative.8 questions that you can ask to help identify a potential levity-minded employees or leader: 1. Tell me about a time you used humor or a lighter tone to diffuse a difficult situation. 2. How have you used your wit to win over an audience, maybe in selling a product or making a big presentation? 3. If we asked former bosses about you, would you say you’re a fun person? Why or why not? 4. Explain your overall philosophy of having fun at work. 5. What’s the most fun event or activity that you’ve ever participated in at work? 6. If you could create your perfect work environment, what would it be like? 7. Your manager has asked you to come up with a creative solution to a problem.. Understanding that we believe fun spurs creativity, how would you get started on tackling the problem? 8. Tell me how you would bring fun and energy to our company.

Respect -> Trust. Humor earns some respect: the conditions necessary to make a joke effective are the same conditions necessary to make a business work: communication, understanding, common ground, trust and respect. Nine-to-five Adversaries: sharing a laugh with someone is an incredibly powerful way to foster trust and rapport. 10 steps to build a trusting environment: 1. express simple kindness, courtesy, and politeness. 2. Be tolerant of people when they make mistakes. 3. Listen first; talk second. 4. Stop butting in when other are speaking. 5. Give employees credit when their ideas work. 6. Refuse the urge to insult, embarrass, and disparage others. 7. Involve people in decisions that affect their work lives. 8. Apply the rules to everyone the same way. 9. Let people balance their work lives and home lives. 10. Praise five times more than you criticize.

Lightness -> Health
Shared meaning (intimacy in humor, unspoken bond). Healthier homes (increase the immune system’s activity, decreases stress hormones, increase the antibody immunoglobulin A). Healthier cultures (happy workers are more productive. 8 ways laughter strengthens your sanity: 1. helps us connects with others. 2. get rid of bad feelings, 3. yanks us out of our antisocial shells, 4. gives us passion, 5. makes us feel great, 6. laugh things off instead of complaining about them, 7. get rid of frustration, 8. laugh when you’re nervous.

Wit -> Wealth
Lowers turnovers. Recharges batteries (fun breather allows employees to approach work with renewed energy and passion). Humor increases personal success. Humor makes you employable.

How to build a culture the encourages consistent fun throughout the year: 1. Build from respect, 2. Have employee champions, 3. get senior management buy-in, 4. link fun to work, 5. keep it personal (e.g. celebrate birthdays), 6. recognize, recognize, recognize, 7. Be consistent.

142 ways to have fun a work. I’m sure there are more. This list is already worth the price of the book.

Levity for life: bringing home the fun.
Lighten up at home: Start each day smiling in the mirror. Smile at your family. Spend time with your peeps. Go easy on the kids. Go easy on your sweetheart. Take stock (note how you treat those around you.)
Lighten up in public: Smile at strangers. Lighten up on vacation. Lighten up at public events. Lighten up in traffic. Lighten up in restaurants. Lighten up in private: take better care of yourself. Develop tolerances for others’ misguided attempts at humor. Work on your sense of humor.
3 steps to developing your own unique sense of humor: 1. exposure. Read. The more you read comedy or satire, the more saturated your brain becomes with wittier dialogue and comical expression. 2. Inventory: as you discover hat you find amusing, take note of it. Remember it. File it away. 3. Application.

A few red flags to avoid: 1. Kidding (“just kidding!”), 2 Mockery: a mean-spirited joke at someone’s expense, 3. Sarcasm, 4. Anger.

This book is a fun read as an audiobook. I was surprised how the authors managed to stretch out the topic to so many pages. At times, it was repetitive (how many times can you say “humor,” “fun,” “lighten-up,” and etc.). Yes, the power of humor is multi-dimensional. We all can use more of it.