Workplace Etiquette: Why Your Inappropriate Jokes Aren’t Funny

Understanding and adhering to proper workplace etiquette has never been more important than it is in this day and age.

The old saying “He who laughs first laughs last” doesn’t apply to all situations in life and in work. Take a look at the world we live in today; social justice warriors are monitoring social media and the digital landscape in general for even a whiff of something culturally inappropriate  — and destroying careers for the slightest ambiguities.

Our culture is changing. What was once limited to race and gender equality has taken a drastic turn with current sociopolitical trends like gender identification, insane shifts in the political landscape, a zero tolerance of bullying of any kind (be it intentional or not), a higher proportion of older people who don’t understand current social nuances, and many more emerging week to week.

Everything is speeding up, and what was appropriate yesterday can get you fired today. Or, at least irreparably destroy a strong working relationship.

workplace etiquette: taking jokes too far

Thinking before you speak and understanding formalities in the workplace.

It’s really important to put on your kid gloves when dealing with people in the workplace. While it’s easy to view modern political correctness as a sad state of affairs, there is a price to be paid for living in a civilised society.

Smart Alec comments should be avoided, as there will always be a recipient who takes offence — and they may not voice their disapproval until you eventually push them over the edge. In this day and age, you need to know someone really well when engaging in sarcasm — you just never know when it will be perceived as outright bullying. Voicing your honest opinions is important. It’s how things get done in the world. However, you have to think things through carefully before formally voicing them.

Sometimes, it’s best to step away from a conversation and think of the best way to tell someone what you think of their ideas. “Ideas” being the key word — never tell people your negative views on their personal beliefs, culture, clothing, dreams, etc.

Bigotry has no place in proper workplace etiquette — even self-bigotry.

You’re not going to make any friends by making inappropriate comments about religious beliefs, sexual preference, gender identification, race, or any other xenophobic hangups you might have. This is true for almost all business environments who practice culturally appropriate workplace etiquette.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re living in some Podunk town in the middle of nowhere, bigotry may in fact be the norm, and thus, this advice doesn’t apply to you. However, karma may have something in store for you down the line if you don’t view others as an equal!

We all need to train ourselves to push any and all bigot-minded thoughts from our head while at work. Perhaps you’re a white guy with many black friends who laugh at your racist jokes because they know that’s not who you are. That’s fine, but in most cases, your coworkers are merely acquaintances and they won’t find you funny even if they laugh to your face!

Understand that inappropriate jokes are often delivered with a dark purpose.

Ninety percent of the time, when someone is making a joke about another person, they’re effectively trying to be negative toward that person. That’s “no joke” but real fact. Just look at professional jokesters like Bill Burr, Chris D’Elia, and many others. Whether they’re making fun of the Kardashians or the homosexual community at large, they’re definitely telling jokes to hurt others at the expense of a laugh from the crowd.

Allowing this behavior into the workplace will again, make the joke teller look like a bully and the recipient (or butt of the joke) a victim.

Workplace etiquette: some jokes hurt
Image Credit: KelseyyBarbara/Flickr

“It was just a joke!”

Plain doesn’t work anymore. There are too many consequences to consider after the fallout of an inappropriate joke gone terribly bad. Job loss, harassment, violence, and even legal action are all harsh realities for people who can’t clearly see the line between P.C. humor and the downright offensive and socially unjust.

Is your job/career worth it?

What are your most important rules where workplace etiquette is concerned?

Main Image Credit: Craig Murphy/Flickr