Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Alternative Resolutions column: No place for sarcasm at the office

10:48 PM, Feb. 27, 2013  |  Comments
  • Filed Under

Q: I work in a large company leading a team of experienced regional managers. Several of the managers use sarcasm and humor to put down their colleagues. I strongly feel that this creates a bad atmosphere because most people do not appreciate being talked to in this way. Should I confront the issue with the entire group in a general manner or should I deal with the misbehaving managers individually?

A: What you describe is the use of humor at its worst-humor used as a tool for taking shots at people. It's the old, "just kidding, can't you take a joke?" cover-up for nastiness.

While it's tempting to say something to the entire team in the name of efficiency, it's not a risk worth taking. First, one or more of the misbehaving managers might conclude that you aren't talking to them. They think, after all, that they are actually quite funny and their "cute" remarks are appreciated by all. Second, those who aren't misbehaving won't like being lumped together with the actual offenders as if they, too, are causing the problem. Third, when it comes to discussing bad behavior in an effective way, you need to point to actual instances, preferably shortly after the occurrence, so the person understands the exact nature of the offense. So talk to the offenders one-on-one, using the following guidelines.

Give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the misbehaving managers do think they're only having fun and are unaware that their use of humor is hurtful. Respectfully and unemotionally describe the last instance, focusing on specific behaviors. While you don't want to bring up every infraction, it is also important that they understand that this is the latest example of an on-going problem.

Ask how they see the problem. If they seem unmoved to own their bad behavior for what it is, explain the consequences of their actions in detail. Talk about how it has affected you and others, as well as the impact on relationships, morale, productivity, etc. Help them see that it's actually difficult to defend one's right to take cheap shots, dole out insults, and cut people down-all in the name of humor.

Describe expectations. Be clear about what behaviors they need to change and how the change will be monitored. Establish a clear policy and explain how people will be held accountable when they violate that policy. Offer assistance in the form of coaching, employee assistance programs, etc.

Getting a laugh at the expense of a coworker, colleague, friend, or loved one certainly isn't worth the price of the damage it causes.

- Visit our website at www.alternativeresolutions.biz or call Cheryl Stinski at 920-850-4527 or Karen Dorn at 920-993-1490 with questions you'd like answered in this column.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
573 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1013 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports

ORDER YOURS

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports