Sarcasm Doesn’t Work……so “Stop It”

Are you sarcastic sometimes? You know, do you make remarks about others that on the surface have a humorous tone, but in reality are a stab at the recipient?

My sense is that we all fall into the sarcasm trap sometimes. Some of us more often than others.

These days it’s very rare, but I fell in again the other day. I tried to be funny with a sarcastic remark to my 21-year old son, Dan, but it didn’t work.

Instead, it momentarily put me in the dog house with my wife and Dan, and it made me feel foolish and ashamed. And rightfully so, it was ill-conceived, wasn’t funny and only served to take a verbal stab at Dan.

I suppose that for some people, in some places (a comedy club), sarcasm works and can be funny. My life’s experience, though, suggests that it definitely doesn’t belong in the home or the workplace.

Years ago I didn’t understand this. When our three boys were small I was very sarcastic. I don’t know where the habit came from, but it had grown to be part of who I was at that time.

Luckily my wife, Linda, went to work back then to “cure” me. She helped me to realize three important things: Little kids simply don’t “get” sarcasm, it wasn’t funny for them or her, and they sure didn’t need a dad who’s idea of humor was sarcasm.

So how about you? Is sarcasm getting in the way of you building stronger relationships with family members, your manager, coworkers or others in your world?

If so, I would offer the following suggestions if you decide to curb your sarcastic tendencies:

  • First, build awareness around what you’re looking to change. Begin watching and listening for sarcasm in you and others. Catch yourself in the act!
  • Second, consider enlisting a supporter, similar to my wife, who will call you out when you slip up. In other words, put in place some accountability structures.
  • Third, take time to consider what you might replace your sarcasm with. What new habit or language will fill the void that’s left when the sarcasm is gone?


Finally, will you allow me to finish this conversation about sarcasm with two words of advice wrapped inside of some classic humor? If so, here you go……

I wish I could help you by just telling you to “stop it”, like Bob Newhart does in this wonderful MadTV skit, but like any bad habit it’s not quite that easy.

“I’d like to do more stuff with less sarcasm.” Sara Gilbert (American actress)

Questions: What’s your experience with sarcasm and its impact on your relationships at home or at work? Does it enhance or erode them?