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Defense Mechanism

As I’ve written before, I love the Vital Smarts guys. In “Confronting Workplace Sarcasm“, Kerry Patterson writes:

I—like most of my close friends—developed keen skills in the use of sarcasm and irony. It was a huge part of my identity. Then, one day, after my wife stumbled awkwardly and I retorted, “Smooth move, did you enjoy the trip?” she responded: “You know what? If you never again use sarcasm—until the day I die—that would be just fine with me. I don’t like it, the kids don’t like it, and there’s no place for it in our home.”

That incident caused Mr. Patterson to pause and reflect on his recurring, habitual behavior. It led to an epiphany and change in behavior:

I learned that it’s actually quite difficult to defend your right to take cheap shots, dole out insults, and cut people down—all in the name of humor. Trust me. You never want to be the defense attorney when sarcasm goes to court. So, maybe I needed to reconsider my stance. Perhaps, getting a laugh at the expense of a coworker, colleague, friend, or loved one isn’t nearly as endearing as I had once thought it was. And so, I said goodbye to that part of me and my wife has been ever grateful.

Hmmm. Without going into details, the above paragraph makes me feel guilty. Thus, as an ego defense mechanism to ease the pain, I’m feelin’ the need to be skeptical that Kerry has actually kicked the habit .

How about you? Do you sense a feeling of guilt and the associated ego-need to rationalize it away? Nah. No way, right?

  1. Mark Wilson
    July 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

    My wife feels the same way. What I see (and what most of my male friends see) as good-hearted humor is just mean to her. I’ve told here it isn’t meant to be mean, just funny, but she doesn’t see it that way. So, nothing but light beer at my son’s graduation party this weekend for me (I am a happy, if very sarcastic, drunk).

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Light beer? Bummer. I pray it’s not Coors Light.

  1. July 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm

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