The Cure For Sarcasm

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I had to read the article called “One Thing Your Employees Need (But Rarely Get)” because I was curious to know the answer. It didn’t surprise me to discover that employees (and might I add employers) need self-respect. 
What did surprise me was the author’s connection between sarcasm and the erosion of self-respect. We all know what sarcasm is and can generally recognize it when we hear it. Though familiar with the word, I looked it up anyway. 

According to Dictionary.com, one definition of sarcasm is a sneering or cutting remark. Words like “harsh” and “bitter” are used in its definition as well. What an accurate description of the role sarcasm plays in our communication with others.  It cuts, wounds, and leaves us emotionally and psychologically bleeding.

Sarcasm is a costly expense we force others to pay. [TWEET THAT]

It belittles the recipient and drives a wedge in relationships. It forces the other party to put up defenses or fortify themselves against an attack that is coming. We rely on sarcasm is because we think it is funny. We erroneously use humor in tense situations to “soften the blow” of saying something difficult or to ease the tension.  Is the fleeting laugh a sarcastic remark might produce worth the communicative destruction it leaves?

Sarcasm masks true meaning.

When you speak sarcastically, the listener has to decipher your meaning. Using non-verbal cues, the listener is supposed to interpret and presumably respond correctly to your remark. How is anyone supposed to know what you really mean when your words are not congruent with your non verbals?

Communication is hard enough without purposely being vague. People who rely heavily on sarcasm do so typically because they believe it is the best way to get their point across.

Sarcasm is the Russian roulette of communication. With each use, you are taking the chance that your true meaning will not be accurately fired or received. 

Instead of saying," No, I won't take on that project because I already have my hands full."

Sarcasm says, "Oh sure, I'll take on the project. It is not like I need to sleep, eat, or spend time with my family."

Now you said you'd you take on the project, but everyone on your team heard the sarcasm and is now wondering "will he really take on the project?" Forcing everyone to question the truth of your word is a waste of time, shows disrespect, and drains creativity and productivity.

Chronic sarcasm puts your integrity at risk.
Integrity is another word for character. Your actions define your character. Your character tells the world whether you can be trusted. If sarcasm is a regular part of your communication habits, you are telling everyone you can't be trusted to be honest.

I know that might sound harsh but think about it. 

If you  always hide your true meaning in sarcasm, why should anyone trust your word when you have proven that your word doesn't carry much weight?

Sarcasm is word play. If you have a reputation for being a word "player" (yeah, I went urban on you) who wants to be around a player? A player in urban lingo is a person who manipulates other to get what they want. 

There is good news. Sarcasm is curable!  

The cure to sarcasm is honesty!

Just be honest!

Good communication is about respecting self and others enough to be honest!

If you don't want to do something, just SAY, "I don't want to do it." If something bothers you SAY so. If you don't agree, SAY so!

Depending on the situation you may need to practice saying so before you actually say so!

The reason we don't want to come right and be honest is because we think it will make us look bad. We question if turning down the committee chair position will make us look uncommitted or inept. No! It will make you look honest. 

Honesty never looked bad on anyone.

There may be consequences to being honest, but you will be held in higher esteem in the long run. Being honest builds your reputation. It makes you more trustworthy.

Be honest with yourself and others about how much you can and can't do. Honesty is simple and clear. There is no risk of confusing or misinterpreting what you want.

Save your wonderful sense of humor for another time. I am sure it is great. Be witty and funny. But never let wit, or cleverness substitute good honest communication.

Are you sarcastic?

1 comment:

  1. Quick Wit,

    I think being able to make people laugh is a great trait. I mean, who doesn't like to laugh?!?! The problem comes when we substitute humor for good communication. Humor is a tool that needs to be properly used. I find that people who use sarcasm or humor as their ONLY tool do so because they haven't taken time to develop other communication tools. All development takes time. We are all learning. Sounds to me that you are insightful enough to know a change needs to happen. That is often the hardest step! Chin up!