Habit 4 of 7

Over the last three weeks, I’ve shared with you a few new habits to incorporate into your daily walk: learning to state clearly what your expectations are, believing the best intent from another person, and allowing colleagues to follow their own process to realize the expected results.   Which of these habits have you practiced? 

As we go into learning about habit 4 of our series – sarcasm – I’m curious: How many folks do you know who wear sarcasm as a badge of honor?  Are you guilty as well? 

In years past, when I was a bit of a sarcastic person, I thought of my irony as a form of jovialness that could help lighten the atmosphere around a tough situation.  But that’s not what sarcasm, by definition, does.  According to my Google search, sarcasm is “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.” 


Sarcasm has become a socially-acceptable method of putdown. We use it to avoid being honest with and about ourselves and others, about our thoughts and emotions, and about our environments. What we’re really trying to do is throw the first (verbal) punch and, by so doing, protect ourselves from the pain of vulnerability. Whether we make the conscious decision to use sarcasm against another person or if we’ve done it so often we don’t even realize it’s happening, there is a cost related to our actions.

It is important to note that humor and sarcasm are not the same thing. The confusion arises when the sarcastic message is delivered in what is seen to be a humorous way.   Everybody thinks it’s funny... except the target of said missive.  The fact that others are laughing doesn’t mean you are not mocking a co-worker or team member.  It also doesn’t mean the laughers agree with your contempt toward the co-worker / team member. Maybe laughing is hoped to be the best way to stay out of sarcasm’s cross-hairs.

The use of sarcasm by leaders as attempts to hide their own frustrations or vulnerabilities not only can actually magnify those things, it can also impact their personal and professional trustworthiness, respectability, and influence on others. 

Heathier Habit: Vulnerability provides an avenue for deeper conversations, greater sympathy, and enhanced empathy. 

Communicate your thoughts, feelings, and, if appropriate, pain kindly, directly, and at an appropriate place and time.  This shows your audience (of one or many) your ability to embrace vulnerability and be an example of openness, honesty, and authenticity.

Whether you are the initiator or the responder, the next time a sarcastic remark is on the tip of your tongue, stop.  Take a deep breath and decide to handle the situation with authenticity and vulnerability, addressing the deeper aspects of your thought or feeling.

I can help you intentionally identify your habits, in this case, how often and under what circumstances you use sarcasm to “protect” yourself.  This will help you grow into a truly excellent leader.  Let’s chat!


P.S.  Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!

P.P.S.  With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader.  My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching.  I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with proven ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.