Cultivating trust through laughter at work

Peppercomm founder and CEO Steve Cody and comedian Clayton Fletcher share an excerpt from their upcoming book, “The ROI of LOL“.

Steve Cody is the founder and chief executive officer of Peppercomm, a strategic communications agency he named in honor of his late Black Lab, Pepper. 

Heard every day on Sirius/XM Radio’s Laugh USA, Blue Collar Comedy, and Jamie Foxx’s Foxxhole stations, Clayton Fletcher is an American stand-up comedian who lives in New York City. He has served as Chief Comedy Officer at Peppercomm for 15 years. 

Check out Part One, “The Importance of Laughing at Work,” here.

As business leaders, we use comedy skills to communicate to our teams that we’re all in this together, as evidenced by the fact that we all agree that the security officer in the office building talks too loudly. We’ve laughed together about how the migration to the new server didn’t go so smoothly. And our CCO had us all in stitches about what her four-year-old triplets did over the weekend. As the laughter flows, so does the work.

Stacey Jones of Honeywell put it better than we ever could: “I’ve found that humor is key to diffusing stress. Sometimes meetings go on for too long or nothing fabulous arises from brainstorming. In times like those, it’s critical to help people relax or to break the tension in the room—and humor can do it.

Humor also helps get us out of a ‘loop’ that drags down creativity so we can open up thinking. But it’s important to remember that humor doesn’t have to come from leaders. I love it when someone on my team just cracks us up with a witticism or joke or funny ‘take’ on the situation. It brings us together and boosts morale.”

Creating a collaborative workplace culture in which laughter is not only allowed but expected is an important step in building what we call TOAST:

  • Trust
  • Openness
  • Authenticity
  • Storytelling
  • Teamwork

TOAST (with or without butter) is essential to any healthy collaborative environment.

A study published in the American Psychological Association’s PsychNet journal found that humor triggers “positive socioemotional communication, procedural structure, and new solutions.” The use of levity improved team performance in both the short and the long term. This was particularly true in what the researchers identified as “low job insecurity climate conditions,” or what we identify as offices where employees aren’t overly concerned with getting the ax. This makes perfect sense to us, and we’ll delve into this area more fully in the next chapter.

What all this means for your business is that by harnessing the prodigious power of your own unique individual sense of humor, and empowering your employees to do the same, you can increase morale, collaboration, communication, and productivity. You can find new and unexpected ways to connect with your external stakeholders. And you can have fun doing it.

A little love potion goes a long way.

Preorder “The ROI of LOL” today, and catch Cody onstage this November at Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference in Austin .

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