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This is one of a series
of brief articles on how to respond effectively
to annoying social behavior. An "effective response"
occurs when you get your
well enough, and both people feel
article offers (a) perspective on sarcasm
and (b) useful ways to respond to an overly-sarcastic
person. The article assumes
you're familiar with...
Try defining sarcasm out loud, as
tho to a young teen. How about "sarcasm is an
attitude and way of speaking or writing where
the words, tone, and facial expression imply
scorn or criticism." If someone is sarcastic
(a) to you or (b) to someone else in your
presence, how do you feel?
Do you agree that
sarcasm can be funny or hurtful, depending on
the context? It can also be occasional or
over-done. Do you ever use sarcasm to entertain
or to hurt?
Hurtful sarcasm is a way of putting someone or
something down without directly insulting them.
It usually implies an irritating "I'm 1-up"
(superior) attitude and body language. It
provides a way for the speaker to deny their
criticism and avoid owning their attitude (a
double message). Excessive or hurtful sarcasm
usually indicates the person is ruled by a false
self, and doesn't know how to assert and
Chronic or excessive
humorous sarcasm may indicate the
person needs to deny some painful realities, or
doesn't know how to be genuine. It can become
irritating and frustrating because it blocks
effective responses to someone who uses sarcasm
to entertain or avoid being real "too much,"
If sarcasm hurts you, how do you respond? Seethe
(repress)? Return the sarcasm? Criticize?
Complain? Whine? Get angry? Grimace? Shut down?
Smile? Joke? Numb out? Change the subject?
Leave? After responding, do you feel satisfied,
or something else? What are the young people in
your life learning about how to respond to
hurtful sarcasm? Is there a best way to respond?
If there is someone in your life who is
"significantly sarcastic" in your opinion, keep
them in mind as you consider these options.
and select from these:
Check to see
that you true Self is
you. If not, make
your first priority.
Check your attitude about you and the
sarcastic person. If it's
then go ahead. Otherwise, suspect that a
false self controls you.
that your feelings, needs, and opinions are just
as valid as the sarcastic person's.
the sarcastic person is
ruled by a
false self now or often. If so, consider
Identify specifically what you feel
because of the sarcasm - Hurt? Resentment?
Irritation? Anger? Anxiety? Weariness?
Each emotion is a valid, reliable pointer to
what you need.
Decide what you want to accomplish by
responding: To vent? Cause
action? Provide constructive feedback?
Blame or attack? Complain? Problem-solve?
Something else? Mentally review your
your relationship and communication goals,
calmly choose one or more responses like
you open to some feedback now?"
experience you as sarcastic right now.
Are you aware of that?"
choose a sarcastic attitude (toward me),
I feel __________________ (and I need
you to _______________ )."
use that tone of voice with me, I feel
disrespected, hurt, and angry."
need to be sarcastic, I lose respect for
aware of why you need to be sarcastic
bothered by what the kids are learning
from your hurtful sarcasm."
that your true Self has been disabled by
a sarcastic subself."
continue to be sarcastic, I'm going to
don't find your sarcasm funny at all. It
normal "resistance" to your response, like...
can't help it"),
("Who are you to criticize me?")
not being sarcastic!")
("Why are you so thin-skinned? Can't you
take a joke?")
("What's for dinner?")
("There you go again...")
Acknowledge each resistance with
and calmly repeat your response
until you get your needs met or your needs
- this is not a
Pause and reflect - what are you thinking and
feeling now? Can you imagine responding like
this to hurtfully-sarcastic adults and kids? How
do you think they would feel and respond