Joking and sarcasm will earn you a few chuckles, but there’s often an element of negativity in funny remarks.
You must avoid crossing the fine line that transforms comic relief into hurtful jabs. As with anything in life, execution can elevate or sabotage your intentions. A gentle poke at someone’s weak spot may be just that, but perception is in the eye of the person receiving the poke.
Often, humor falls flat. Even worse than not being funny is inadvertent destructiveness. The problem occurs when we fail to recognize how what we say in jest can turn negative. We assume the recipient knows we’re “just kidding,” but research shows:
- Nasty interactions have a 500% greater impact on one’s mood than positive interactions.
- It takes numerous encounters with positive people to offset the loss of energy and happiness a jerk can cause in a single hurtful episode.
Laughter can also work against you if you diminish others or offend people by laughing at what they consider too crude or sacred. People rarely enjoy being the butt of jokes. This is why it’s best to laugh at yourself or an immediate situation you face at work, as opposed to others, their backgrounds and idiosyncrasies.
But be careful to avoid laughing at your own career competence, as those around you want to see courage and confidence. Otherwise, you risk undermining your position, and people will have a hard time taking you seriously.