Sarcasm: an invisible brick wall?

Zing! Ooooh- gotcha! hahaha! Oh yeah, haha, you got  me…

Have you have worked on a team with a sarcastic person? Sports, school project, job, music group, event planning, etc, etc.

I think we all have at one time or another. You have to admit, sometimes it’s really funny. I have some extremely hilarious sarcastic friends- I could even name a few! A well placed joke or comment in the right situation is witty and appreciated. Yet, a string of zingers in the midst of a productive meeting or planning session gets in the way.

I’ve watched other teams, or co-workers, interact in past jobs as the first one mentions an honest idea or insightful thought only to have the return volley be a sarcastic remark. Now, from the outside, it seems like good fun. Maybe that one jab is meant to be harmless and a way to lighten the mood. What happens if that becomes the norm though? Your close team member is now known for that sort of reaction. What does that do to team dynamics and most of all trust?

Can you trust that person with an honest opinion or question? I think it becomes definitely more difficult. After a while, you start to redesign your line of conversation or sharing, so that you can minimize the “zing” or unnecessary comment. Now, I’m not specifically talking about casual conversation among friends, which may be able to handle more sarcasm, but mainly about team communication. Although, I could see too much misplaced sarcasm in a friendship become a problem as well.

So, this is where that invisible brick wall comes in. The sarcasm lays stone upon stone, and after a while, there is a communication/trust barrier between teammates. I’ve watched it happen to people I’ve worked with and it’s disappointing to see. The sarcastic person is a creative, insightful, hardworking addition to the team, but the team can’t honestly and openly communicate with them. They’ve unknowingly made it clear: “You’re going to get made fun of for your opinion and then I might actually get around to joining you in your idea or plan.” Progress, efficiency and trust are replaced with roadblocks, hesitation, and uneasiness in conversation.

If you’re a sarcastic person, use your wit to entertain and create laughter in appropriate situations. If you’re not careful, you could be slowly walling yourself off from the group.

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5 thoughts on “Sarcasm: an invisible brick wall?

  1. Great post! Excellent reminder for sarcastic people like myself to be aware of a situation so as not to interfere with a group dynamic.

  2. The word comes from the late Greek σαρκασμός (sarkasmos) taken from the word σαρκάζειν meaning ‘to tear flesh.” (wikipedia)

    Ouch.

    I think it’s interesting that sarcasm ends in “casm” which in my mind conjures the word “chasm”…connecting to your post…another metaphor of separating people.

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