By John Hinman, Managing Director with Nexus 5 Group
A few years ago I had a co-worker, from a sister company, that I worked with on a regular basis. Her office was remote, so we only talked when she traveled to the office or had phone calls. Since she was typically remote, it was difficult to build a relationship with her (this was prior to video conference calling) and she was difficult to get along with.
Sarcasm can be defined as “the use of remarks that clearly mean the opposite of what they say, made in order to hurt someone’s feelings or criticize something in a humorous way.”
Every time I had a conversation with her, she would respond with sarcasm.
Dealing with her sarcasm made it difficult to get things accomplished and to truly understand what she meant with her comments. Over time, I started to resent working with this person.
One day, when she was in the corporate office, she stopped by my office and we started having the typical sarcastic conversation. During the conversation I stopped her and simply said, “Can we stop the sarcasm? I find it difficult to communicate with you when sarcasm is used.” She stopped and looked a bit shocked. From that point on, the sarcasm stopped and we started to get along and appreciate each other. We solved problems together and ended up having a great working relationship.
On that day, I decided that sarcasm had no place in my business.
If we wanted to have a culture that we can be proud of, we need to be a culture where people are built up instead of cut down. As I dug a bit further into this, I found that for many, sarcasm was simply a mask for their insecurity or resentment toward the other person.
At Nexus 5 Group, we have fun and joke around, but not at the expense of others. My team has heard me say several times “I believe there is a little truth in all sarcasm.” As we started to practice candor without sarcasm, we instantly saw the effects of genuine relationship and communication. The by-products have been great, but an important outcome is that we have a trusting culture. Practicing this has been freeing and convicting at the same time.
After learning this lesson at work, I started using this "no sarcasm" concept at home. Again, the results were profound. If you struggle with sarcasm, I encourage you to pause and take an inventory of why. Do you have resentment? Are you feeling insecure? Is there an issue that you are afraid to discuss? When are you using the sarcasm the most or with whom? Maybe you have things to deal with. Whatever it is, find a way to deal with it and you'll be amazed at how your relationships deepen as a result.
Say NO to sarcasm. #servewell