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This is one of a
of brief articles on how to respond effectively
to annoying social behavior. An effective
when you (a) get your
well enough, and (b) both people feel
This article offers useful responses to
the behavior of someone who uses excessive or
It assumes you're familiar with...
Do you know anyone who "makes a joke out of
everything" and "is never serious"? That can be
entertaining or aggravating, depending on
your relationship and current needs. Some humor
can be a personal and social asset unless it's
overdone and/or inappropriate.
respond to someone who's "always joking"?
Laugh genuinely or politely? Joke back? Go
along, and avoid serious topics? Try to get
serious/ Give up? Criticize? Complain? Hint?
Avoid confrontation? Get sarcastic? Numb out?
Avoid the person? If your response "worked," I
assume you wouldn't be reading this article.
"Worked" means "get your current relationship
needs met well enough."
In my experience, someone who uses humor
excessively is unconsciously guarding against
(a) feeling painful emotions like sadness or
despair), and/or (b) being disliked, rejected,
and abandoned. Both are common symptoms of
people use humor
inappropriately - e.g. joking about
things that are sobering, sad, or tragic; or
using sexual or crude language in social
conversations. Do you know anyone like this? How
do you feel when they do this?
Offended? Disrespected? Frustrated? angry?
Scornful? Critical? Titillated? Forgiving?
Tolerant? How do you usually respond? Do
you need the other person to change?
you need from your response to the
'humorist:" To vent? To inform? To cause
change? To "help them?" Something else?
of your (and their) personal
as dignified, worthy people.
Ask if the
person is willing to hear some personal
feedback. If not, honor that. if so, get
good eye contact and choose responses like
To vent and inform
"(Name), when you make a joke out of
everything, I feel __________."
"(Name), are you
aware of how often you use humor?"
you joke about (something sad, serious, or
tragic) I feel confused."
"You seem to
need to avoid being serious (about ______).
I feel like I'm only seeing one side of you
(and that frustrates me)."
use of humor (and sarcasm?) prevents us from
having a serious conversation / irritates me
/ makes me want to tune you out / makes me
"I don't think
_________ is funny."
"(Name), I need
you to stop joking all the time (about
"(Name), I need
you to stop using crude language / sexual
humor with me."
you use (crude / sexual) language like that,
I lose respect for you."
"(Name), if you
keep using (crude / sexual) language like
that, I'm going to
(take a specific action)."
you use this, be prepared to act!
you use assertive responses like these, expect "resistances" like denial,
sarcasm, explanations, excuses, indignation
, criticism, stonewalling, changing the
subject, whining, criticizing, aggression,
Use calm, respectful
to acknowledge the other person's behavior,
and then re-assert your need/s.
this listen > re-assert cycle as often as you
need to. Avoid lose-lose arguing, explaining,
debating, or finger-pointing (blaming)!
"help" the other person
If you feel an urge to "rescue' or "fix" the
humorist, beware! That's often a sign
that a well-meaning false self is
controlling you. If the other person doesn't
want help, offering it will
usually feel disrespectful. This can evoke
passive or active "resistances" and stress
the person's behavior with who they are
your feelings and needs. Neither of you
Name-calling, judging, labeling, or
ridiculing the other person;
asserting. This implies "I'm 1-down";
and/or joking as you respond. This is
apt to be a confusing double message
which implies "I really don't mean what
I'm saying, so ignore me."
the past, or using "you always..." or
"you never..." (generalizing)
responsibility for the other person's
needs, feelings, and behavior; and...
guilty for asserting your perceptions
and needs or "offending" the other
Pause and reflect. What are you thinking and
feeling now? How do these responses compare with
your normal way of reaction to someone who jokes
all the time or uses humor inappropriately? How
do you think such a person would react to your
responding respectfully like this? Would
you satisfy your needs? Option -
experiment with responses like these and see
This is one of a series of brief articles
suggesting effective ways to respond to common
social behaviors. This article offers options for
responding effectively to someone who jokes "all the
time" and/or uses humor inappropriately (in your
opinion). The options are
your true Self
clarity on your
feelings, needs, and mutual
fluency in the
relationship skills of
Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this
article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what
you need? Who's
these questions - your
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