It is the humour of the sophisticated individual, the jokes that aren’t immediately caught by the untrained ear, but have the potential to be hilarious when the connection is made.
But at the same time, it is a tool that must be used selectively, for its power can easily backfire upon you.
I’ve used sarcasm for as long as I can remember. Actually, it was likely in my teenage years where I decided that sarcasm was going to be an integral part of my life.
Sarcasm can make you the funniest person in the room.
Sarcasm can get you invited to parties since you tell such GREAT stories.
But sarcasm can quickly make you lose friends as well.
More than once, I’ve seen someone who exudes sarcasm THINK that they’re funny, but really, they just become rude and hurtful.
Words of jest and those of pain have a very fine line between them. If you’re new to the world of sarcasm — or if you’re running into too many situations that have taken a turn for the worse and you’re in need of a self-check — here’re some quick tips that will hopefully steer you right:
1 — KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Like in any form of communication, you’ve got to know your audience before you drop sarcasm on them. How will they react? Could you seriously damage relationships you’d rather keep? Is your comment really as funny as you think it is? These are all things to ask before you unintentionally make yourself a pariah of your social circle.
2 — HAVE YOU USED TOO MUCH SARCASM ALREADY?
I wish there were a magic formula to help calculate when enough sarcasm is enough, but unfortunately it’s a subjective thing that’s only learned through experience.
Too much sarcasm and you’re seen as a buzzkill or cynic, tainting the good time being had by others. If you’re inexperienced with sarcasm and try to use it unsuccessfully, it could lead to a VERY awkward situation.
Some good ways to do a self-check for your sarcasm usage include:
Recalling how recently and how SEVERE your last sarcastic jab was and whether the audience has recovered from it yet
If you’re at an event, party, etc., imagine what the first impression that you’re giving off looks like — if it’s not what you want it to be, something’s gotta give and you need to tweak your approach
Sarcasm is the staple of teenager-parent interaction. It could be said that sarcasm is possibly a side effect of puberty, and in many cases is a behaviour retained through most of our adult life. But how many of the things you did as a teenager are things you still do frequently today? It may be time to reassess your approach to others, ensuring that it’s one that you’re comfortable with
3 — CHECK YOUR TONE
The worst is when you don’t even INTEND to be sarcastic, but because of your delivery, that’s the way your message is received ANYWAY. Tone is said to be 38% of the message we convey to others (of course, the study is 40 years old, and many argue that things aren’t so simple), so you need to be sure that the one you’re using is matching your message.
One thing to try is to play what you’re saying in your head before you say it, and try to see the different ways in which it could be interpreted. Or perhaps you should find some close friends who can give you an honest opinion on what you’re doing, both right AND wrong.
So remember: one can have all the tools in the world, but they’re all useless if one doesn’t know how to use them. Sarcasm is like a chainsaw — powerful when used correctly, but dangerous when in the wrong hands. Understand sarcasm. Treats others with respect. Recognize boundaries. Then, and ONLY then, might you be able to be fantastically sarcastic.