Do you regularly respond to a person or a group’s actions or decisions in a way that is opposite of what you really feel—as evidenced by your tone or body language (smirking, raising eyebrows, cocking your head to the side, or sighing)? Sarcasm can ruin your relationships as its goal is usually to scorn, belittle, insult, or express irritation or disapproval. You can find it in all social interactions–at home, in sports, romantic relationships, and at church to name a few. Consider these examples:
At home: Junior brings in his report card which reflects low grades in all subjects. Dad says, “Way to go, Einstein!” Dad is expressing his frustration by saying the opposite of what he’s really feeling.
Romantic relationship: John buys his wife Sue a pair of very small diamond earrings. Sue, who had hoped for larger gems, says, “Boy, these are really going to blind people!”
How has your sarcastic attitude affected your life? How do you typically respond to your recurring frustrations or irritations with others? Perhaps you have convinced yourself that you are not sarcastic at all, but rather witty or humorous. Perhaps you are not aware that your sarcasm most likely leaves the hearer feeling diminished or devalued. If you want to begin to address this poor communication style, consider these strategies:
1) Admit your motive for being sarcastic. You may be attempting to control other people or to shame them out of behavior that you disapprove. Face it, the only person you can control is yourself. Or, maybe you are trying to display your great intellect by calling attention to the deficiency of another.
Stay tuned for strategies #3-4… in Part II
*Adapted from Choose Your Attitude, Change Your Life
by Deborah Smith Pegues (available April 1, 2014)