Tag Archive | attitude

Sarcasm – Not (Usually) for Work

For a long time I’ve been told I have a quirky sense of humor, a dry wit and lover of puns.

sarcasm-9Knowing how this (sometimes) got me in to trouble in school, I have tried to behave while working. Generally I succeed. But there have been times when keeping quite would have been the much better way to go. Heck, sometimes it’s just the tone of voice that can get me in trouble. (Really, I didn’t think I used that tone?!) Pictures like this seriously represent my thought processes.

Sarcasm and work walk a very fine line. It’s enough to make tightrope walkers concerned.

My sarcasm has gotten me in trouble a few times. Even the things I didn’t think were sarcastic. Boy, when people take things the wrong way – things go south in a hurry! But when it works, sarcasm can be a handy tool to get things done/help needed. I bet you’re wondering what I mean by that one. Well, let me give you a couple examples of sarcasm going well:

  1. Working for a busy doctor and I was the only medical assistant. One Saturday, when he was ordering tests on 90% of the patients he overheard my comment to the office staff “do me a favor trip him when he goes by – maybe he’ll slow down.” A few minutes later he was drinking coffee in my small lab. He said “you know, you are in charge.” My witty retort? “Oh, yippee, when I’m pissed at myself I can tell me where to go” and went back to work. That Monday I had an assistant. By the end of the week, I started getting students working on an internship basis.
  2. In an office – as an administrative assistant. One day I was wearing a shorter skirt (not incredibly but perhaps a bit too short). The boss “dropped” his pencil and asked me to pick it up. He complained when I bent at the knees and stooped to pick it up. My comment was, “I guess I’ll have to wear pants so I can pick up pencils around here, my knees are on the bad side and don’t like to bend that much.” He was the owner/president. I overheard his VP tell him “yes she ruined your day and was sarcastic, but it could have been worse, she could have ruined you and the business.”
  3. A co-worker (slightly higher up the rung than me) likes to give people grief. Seems to enjoy it. I didn’t ever raise my voice, but that “tone” was there. Once he complained that I wouldn’t take anything he was dishing out, he was actually (slightly) upset when he asked me WHY. I simply told him, “I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to. I can get my work done, still make you look good and not feel the need to put up with your nonsense.” He actually thanked me for standing up to him.

sarcasm-10What happens when sarcasm backfires? Well in the second example – I wasn’t employed there much longer. I was told my work wasn’t up to his standards. (hmm, I worked harder than the others…) Well, at least it wasn’t a job I missed. I knew I wasn’t ever going to wear short skirts and bend at the waist to pick things up for the guy. After that there were a series of other jobs (temp) where I was told that the reason they didn’t hire me for a permanent position; they didn’t approve of my sarcasm/tone I took with peers.

So, what do I do now? I “sit back” and observe the culture more. While I get a feel for the place/people I stay reserved and don’t say much. I truly am basically shy, it’s when I decide to “open up” and over compensate that I get into trouble.

For the record, I keep my sarcasm to my co-workers and some bosses/clients. NEVER used on customers. I will not make an employer look bad because they chose to hire/work with me and my wit.

NOTE: You will also find this article in my friend Nancy Becher’s newsletter: Small Biz Forward – due to be released soon!

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Turning 20 is Turning Old(?!)

I was told last night by a 19 year old: “Tomorrow is my birthday and I’ll be 20.” This is a good thing, when I wished her a happy birthday she had a strange reaction.  She wasn’t happy – “I’m getting OLD” I said “Child, please you’re just getting started!” “Yeah but it’s been three years since I was 17 and look at where I am!” I told her “You will always have MORE learning in life, if you find this situation as bad – learn from it! You can’t expect to be at the BEST in your life right now – because you’ll always be evolving. Relax and 20 isn’t old! Oh and another thing…don’t EVER say that to someone who’s 53.”

turning 20That whole conversation (to me) was disheartening. To have a kid feel that way about life, should I have told her any of my life changes? I posted the above statement on my facebook page and got some great feedback/comments and I will share them here. I will not use the names of the people making the comments, just their first initial.

B: I changed my entire direction when I was 40.
L: Don’t ever say that to anyone who is 62. Like B, I find myself changing directions when there is something I need or want to change. Life really is an adventure and the new year always gives you a blank sheet to write upon, but in reality, each day is a new blank sheet to do with what you will…do well, because you have exchanged a day of your life for it…make it count. Liz, I had to smile at your post because I remember being in such a hurry to conquer the world… wish I had a mentor like you to have given me the advice you did to the young lady.
T: What can a 78 “AWAKE! ALERT! ALIVE! & ENTHUSIASTIC ONE” remark about your comments – B, L and Liz LaClair?…really curious!…. ‘Cuz don’t know what to say.
Me: T, every person has something great to add to another person through their experiences in life and I am sure you could teach L, B and me things that we did not know.
J: Oh Liz, that ain’t even right.
T: J, now I’m more tongue-tied! Maybe, reaching this age tires one to recite life’s litany anymore…having been a mentor-coach, etc., for decades now and just getting set to retire from active Toastmaster volunteer work!
B: T, I have a friend that is 92 and still shows up every Sunday for the ballroom dance practice my wife and I run. He remains both physically and mentally alert by constantly giving of his knowledge and skills to others. He is my role model. At 78 you have many productive years yet if you chose to use them in that manner.
Me: It concerns me that she is from a generation that was told everyone is equal (as in there are no “winners” or “losers”). That’s not how real life works. Her generation (and the ones that follow) will have a very hard time facing life when they’re taught everything is fair and equal. I hope she’s just one in a large group of kids. Just have to reach out to her. I should have told her that I’ve changed my life path a few times already. I definitely haven’t done what I set out to do – the world hasn’t been conquered. Thanks for your compliment L! T, J was referring to the teenager’s attitude – that’s what isn’t right.
J: That’s it Liz! The girl isn’t even of legal drinking age yet… Geez
T: Oh! …Liz, yes…the thinking of the youth today’s rather not focused as well as we elders were in our time back then…(of course for you guys not too long ago yet except for me. hehehe!)…especially those unfortunate ones who are left without guidance and proper counseling!

WOW! It seems that I’m not far off in my thinking: the changes “for the better” (?) in how parents punish children for misdeeds, telling children that no one is better than anyone else (we’re all equals) doesn’t work. No, I don’t have children – but I do have eyes and common sense. If a child isn’t punished starting at an early age for misdeeds, how will they learn acceptable behavior? Especially in public. I know I can’t be the only person “out there” who thinks are you kidding me? why is that kid’s parents allowing him/her to do that??!!! How else can anyone learn to take responsibility for their OWN actions?

Teaching kids that there aren’t any “winners” or “losers” – a prime/easy example: no strikeouts in a baseball game. Why?? “Because we don’t want to lower the little tyke’s self-esteem.” Huh? How will that child ever grow up and be prepared for the real world. No one will pat you on the head and say “there, there, that’s OK – you’re doing good, it’s OK that your oops cost the company thousands of dollars.”

I don’t believe that I’m being harsh. I’m not saying I had a horrible childhood because my parents believed in corporal punishment, because that would be a lie. We all need to know that we will always (if we’re smart) be learning and that failure in any form is a type of learning. I will never say that I’m perfect. PUL-EEZE! I’m no where near that level. But if I can offer advice, then I will, it’s up to who ever whether or not they accept it.

And to my young friend? All I can say is: life’s too short to worry/stress over the little shit, get over yourself and when you find your life isn’t going the way you want, change it! OR, follow that path and see where it takes you – it could be the better path.

(Oops, large soap box today. Picture from Google images)