Joking with the Wrong People on the Job Might Be an End All

You may have thought your comment, joke, smirk, or laugh was okay for the moment with a co-worker or fellow leader.  Some people will smile or laugh along, but others not so much.  It is hard to tell what a person really thinks about what you said or did until disapproving actions follow sooner or later. 

The word "nice" gets thrown around a lot at the workplace until a worker rubs another the wrong way.  "Oh she is so nice...I like him he's very nice."  But as the work relationship gets older, "He's okay...I guess she's alright."  In time, the offended worker might say of his co-worker when asked how he feels about working with him, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." 

People don't forget what hurts their feelings.  I repeat, people don't forget what hurts their feelings.  Days, weeks or even years back the human brain recalls moments of "just joking" during a dispute.  Those thoughts that were never communicated out loud tend to come back around.  For example, in the heat of an argument, a worker says, "Oh yea, by the way, I didn't think what you said about...was nice."  The jester assumed his comment was taken lightly from 10 months ago!  "Are you really bringing that up?  I was joking.  If you weren't okay with what I said, why didn't you say something back then!?"  It is only a matter of time that these two will be talking about one another behind closed doors with a boss or supervisor about "how he/she makes me feel."  Wonder which one will still be considered for a promotion or maybe he will just find someone else for their positions depending on how long this drama plays out?

You may have a way of joking that is well-received on the home front, but take that same sense of humor and use it with a certain ethnicity, the opposite sex, a man or woman with an interesting lifestyle, or a person with a faith, and look out, you just might be strategically pushed out doors.  Witty, funny people who have tongues that oftentimes go out of control aren't loved by all especially if they make management work to put out their fires.  Consider the following fictional example of a boss who grew weary of Jim's fat jokes and insults about how he handles things at work.  Do you think Jokes Jim can see the signs that his boss is trying to get rid of him without firing him?  "Hey Jim, did you check out that open position in another department or what about an even better one in another city?  I think you are good for it.  Let me talk to my boss." Jim better take the offer if he gets it, because if he stays with his boss, his continued clowning might cost him and his family a lot of unnecessary stress in the future.  Wonder what his boss will come up with next, a layoff? 

Past insults, negative statements, and jokes come back to haunt you in more ways than one.  Jim's boss doesn't care that much about Jim's success as much as he wants him to go away.  People grow weary of backhanded insults, smart mouth quips followed by ugly grins that say, "I was just kidding."  Sure, right.

Nicholl McGuire

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