Leading With Levity- Scott Christopher

In 2008, Wiley Publishing released my book The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up. Over the past ten plus years, I’ve shared keynotes and workshops all over the world on leading with levity.  To underscore the universal applicability of lightening up at work, I thought I’d share excerpts from an interview with a Brazilian publication. I’ve left the reporter’s questions unedited or corrected for grammar because, well, they make me smile.


Q:  Is it common employees feel nervous knowing that be good-humored is another prerequisite to well succeed?


A: Look, the last thing you want to happen is for your employees to feel pressure to “be something they’re not.” That’s the whole point of Levity; it’s allowing and tolerating others to express themselves in ways that are comfortable to them. In most cases, the majority really, people breathe a sigh of relief that they are allowed to “lighten up,” even while they’re being asked to work harder or better.


Q: In the book The Levity Effect, you say levity increases creativity, incites productivity and reduces turnover. If levity is so positive, why many professionals have a prejudice against it?


A: Because typically people associate levity with goofing around and being frivolous, or someone whose sole purpose at work is to get others to laugh and NOT be productive. It’s a judgment based totally on assumptions. “If people are laughing or having fun, how can they possibly be doing their jobs?” is the most common misconception, and as you’ve mentioned, the book clearly makes the case that real results occur when levity is present.


Q: And what do I have to do to improve levity at my work? What is the first step?


A: One thing that we suggest people do is to stop taking themselves so seriously. Who cares what your title is or that you have an office and everyone else has a cubicle? Another thing you can do is begin your next meeting with some light discussions about something off-topic. Ask about someone’s weekend plans or talk about the latest You-Tube sensation. Any random topic that will get people feeling comfortable and even laughing will lay the groundwork for a far more engaging and productive meeting.


Q: In the book, you say that is more important to be fun than funny. How a professional, who isn't a comedian, can develop this ability?


A: Along with not taking yourself seriously, don’t forget to be YOU no matter where you are or whom you’re with. One man I spoke to told me his boss had a reputation of being a really funny guy at home and around his neighborhood, but at work, he was a mean jerk. Why the Jekyll and Hyde? Just be you everywhere. It’s holistic. Don’t compartmentalize your personality. And you don’t have to be the funny one, just have more fun and enjoy life and let others around you do the same.


Q: How does humor help leaders to communicate better?


A: It makes what they say memorable and listenable. We’ve all been bored out of our minds sitting through business meetings or sales presentations when cold, dry data is being dumped on us. We’d rather ram a pencil through our ears than spend another minute there. But spice things up with some laughter and a well-timed joke and people are more willing to listen. It’s no coincidence that humor is a major part of most advertisements these days. It’s just more memorable and it helps build a brand faster.


Q: Humor help to face and to overcome crises?

A: It’s pretty well documented and most everyone will agree that one of the main functions of comedy is to ease tension. A big, hearty laugh does the body and soul a lot of good. One woman told us that she always laughs out loud when she feels scared. On a flight once, she said the plane started to bob up and down and everyone was frightened. They buckled up tightly and tried to hang on. Meanwhile, she was laughing hysterically. Soon, as is usually the case, the laughing spread and others were laughing too. When the turbulence passed, the other passengers thanked her for laughing because they said it helped calm them down.

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Scott is the author of The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up and The Seven Ups of Happiness. To order copies in bulk for your event, please visit BulkBooks.com

Scott Christopher: Contributing author of the bestseller A Carrot A Day, co-author of The Levity Effect

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