Sarcasm vs. Humor

Sarcasm is often justified by saying, “I was only joking or teasing.” However, the intent does not matter.  The outcome is what matters.  Sarcasm is hurtful to the person receiving as well as the one delivering the message.  Sarcasm is the use of words or remarks in an ironic manner. Sarcasm has often become a negative habit and a way to not deal with items directly.  Sarcasm can also be a way to refuse to find ways to be lighthearted and humorous in an appropriate way. When sarcasm is practiced in an organization, sarcasm supports socially unjust acts which mar relationships and can result in discrimination toward a person or group. Remember sarcasm is defined as “cutting the flesh” or “tearing the flesh”.  Sarcasm is “the use of bitter or wounding remarks.”  This tears away trust and destroys communication, relationships and teams.

Teasing is attempting to make fun of another person in a “playful” manner; however, teasing ends up being unkind or annoying to the person receiving the comment. Joking can also create difficulties.  Joking is defined as “a statement said or done to excite laughter; a witticism or jest; a ridiculous statement, person, or circumstance or poke fun at.”  Joking also can be hurtful and harmful to another.

Possible Reasons for People to Participate in Sarcasm

  1. Even though sarcasm is a sad way to get involved, people participate in sarcasm to be included.
  2. People get attention by doing sarcasm and when sarcasm becomes an accepted norm in an organization, unfortunately people get positively reinforced for sarcasm.
  3. Since people often have difficulty dealing with emotions in situations and relationships, they may deal with their emotions indirectly by participating in sarcasm.  This prevents people from dealing directly with people, processing their feelings and then finding resolution to their conflicts or differences of opinion.
  4. Sarcasm feeds third-party communication or gossip.
  5. When sarcasm is an accepted norm in the organization, practicing sarcasm becomes a “right of passage” in the organization.  In other words, sarcasm is expected and is a way people are to communicate.  This is another way of saying, “I want to be accepted” and I will participate in sarcasm.
  6. When the person is sarcastic, this may prevent the person from being able to address the individual directly. The person being talked about is unable to do anything about the comments.  This becomes frustrating to the person being focused upon since there is “no way to fight back.”  Sarcasm is a form of “sick politics.”
  7. Some people will rationalize sarcasm by saying Sarcasm is a way to vent when the job is stressful and “what’s wrong with dark humor?” Both contribute to the ISMS.  Sarcasm also does not encourage the person to learn how to process their feelings and focus themselves.
  8. “Well, sarcasm may be safer than “throwing rocks.”  This is a sarcastic statement in itself.  We need to find more productive ways to communicate.
  9. Sarcasm can be a way to” tear someone down to make themselves feel better.” Tearing someone else down feeds self-defeating behaviors in the person who does the sarcasm.  This is not a winning approach.
  10. Sadly, people use sarcasm as a way to “tell the truth or what I believe without consequences.”  This supports people in not developing respectful and effective ways to communicate.  There are consequences for sarcasm and not expanding my knowledge about ways to communicate with others.

What are Ways To Communicate Effectively, Process my Feelings and even Find Ways to be Humorous and Light-hearted

Consider the following statements, as well as ways to turn around the statements in the previous list. These are suggestions meant to stimulate your thoughts about other ways to express humor.

Humor—“the quality of being amusing; the ability to perceive or express humor; facetious, comic.”  “The quality of being laughable or comical:  finally saw the humor of the situation.”

Communicate and Communication—“to make known; put into words; give expression to, as by gestures, facial aspects, or bodily posture; to interact with another or others in a meaningful fashion.”

Emotions and Emotional—“a strong subjective response” such as love, sadness, etc.  “Stirred by emotions; relating to, arising from, or appealing to the emotions.”

Feelings—“intuitive cognition; (similar definitions to emotions); an act of touching; a particular sensation conveyed by words; a general impression produced by a predominant quality or characteristic; stirred by emotions.”  “Emotions are expressed in feeling words such as mad, glad, sad, happy, etc.”