I just read a fascinating book, The Levity Effect, by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. It’s about how “levity” can transform the workplace. They make a powerful case for why levity is an extremely effective tool for helping people to work better.
Now, you might be thinking, as I did, “Levity would sure be tough for me, I’m not particularly funny, and I’m not particularly outgoing.”
But what the authors mean by “levity” is really a sense of “lightness.”
Ah, I thought, I’m trying! The Ninth of my Twelve Commandments is “Lighten up” (see left column). When I posted sticky notes with key phrases all around my office and apartment, the one I put in the master bathroom read, “Tender and light-hearted.”
Gostick and Christopher include a quiz about workplace levity. Looking at it, I realized that most of my workplaces included these elements, which I’m sure contributed to the positive experience I had everywhere (except for the summer I worked as a waitress at Dos Hombres Mexican restaurant — zoikes, I did not like that job).
For example, I’d assumed that the atmosphere around the Supreme Court would be serious, thoughtful, and grand. And it was. But in her chambers, Justice O’Connor incorporated certain goofy aspects that made it a lot of fun, too. Each Halloween, she required her clerks to decorate elaborate pumpkins, and birthday celebrations were always a big deal, and she took the clerks on a yearly outing (we went fishing). And that sort of thing really made a difference.
How does your workplace measure up? Take Gostick and Christopher’s quiz:
New employees are made to feel welcome
Meetings are positive and light
We have fun activities at least once a month
It’s common to hear people laughing around here
I can be myself at work
We have a lot of celebrations for special events
When brainstorming, we like to have fun
My boss is usually optimistic and smiling
Customers would call us fun to do business with
I have a friend at work who makes me laugh
We have a good time together
It occurs to me that this is a good list for home, too; I just need to substitute a few words. I’ve been working hard to be a more light-hearted parent and spouse, and these are helpful points to keep in mind.
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