How to joke so as not to offend loved ones

Be mindful and thoughtful about humor if you want to maintain a good relationship. Jokes are often perceived as harmless and do not require any censorship. Like, this is just humor and not a deliberate insult. So, there is nothing to be offended by and be so sissy, that’s all.

However, jokes do more than amuse and unite people. They may well injure a person, and often they are completely one of the forms of passive aggression. Experts from the American psychological center The Got man Institute have created a small instruction about how to joke consciously and why it matters. Here are the highlights.

Where do offensive jokes come from and what they are

Offensive humor is the result of unconsciousness.

More often than not, the joker really doesn’t want to offend anyone. He is just careless about what he says, and does not think about the fact that his humor can offend someone. Such a person may not have sufficient emotional intelligence and may not be able to feel the mood and reaction of the interlocutor. And in the end, faced with misunderstanding and resentment, he himself is genuinely indignant: “Well, forgive me! I was just kidding.”

This approach is partly understandable. Humor is considered a kind of territory of freedom, a kind of field in which there is no place for restrictions, because people kind of tacitly agree that this is a joke.

Usually, several groups of statements become offensive:

  • Sarcasm: “Yeah, go on, very interesting: you see, I hardly even yawn.”
  • Making fun of a person’s shortcomings and hitting his pain points: “Well, you are already 40. How is it, the sand is not pouring yet?”
  • Antics and imitation.
  • Attempts to wrap up some kind of pretense or even an insult in humor: “You crush the cake like that, I’m afraid, and you will eat me.”
  • Jokes that touch on acute social topics: violence, racism, discrimination, and so on.

There are situations when this kind of humor on the verge is acceptable to all participants in the conversation, and then there is nothing wrong with these jokes. But in other cases, they can be offensive or even dangerous.

What’s wrong with “just jokes”

1. They hurt.

You can say as much as you like that everyone around has become too pampered and is being infringed upon by literally any word. But if one person is thick-skinned enough to calmly respond to the most rude and provocative humor, this does not mean that everyone has to be like that.

A person has the right to be offended by a harsh statement, even made in the form of a joke. He cannot turn off his emotions and “be simpler”. This means that the people around him, at least the closest ones, should be more sensitive and conscious when choosing words.

2. They lead to violence.

This is not about sarcasm or passive aggression, but about jokes on completely serious topics: violence, sexism, racism, discrimination, ridicule of people with special needs.

Such humor, as it were, legitimizes the dismissive or mocking attitude towards these issues, transfers them from the category of serious to the category of funny. In addition, it normalizes violence and discrimination to some extent, makes them less intimidating and more acceptable: since this is so much fun, why not give it a try?

For example, sexist jokes provoke discrimination and even violence against women.

How to joke so as not to offend anyone

It may seem that humor is impossible without the likelihood of offending someone. But this is worth striving for. Here are some guidelines.

1. Put yourself in the place of the interlocutor.

Mirror the situation and think about how you would react if a similar joke was addressed to you. Just be honest with yourself, don’t flaunt it. It is quite possible that if you get used to the role of your interlocutor, humor will not seem so harmless.

2. Consider the context.

With someone, sharp jokes may be appropriate – the person will playfully answer you in kind, you will laugh, and the situation will be settled. Others need a more delicate approach. If you know that your interlocutor is vulnerable enough, or you see that he is in a bad mood, try to choose your words carefully and joke more carefully.

3. Reflect on experiences.

It is likely that the person you are communicating with has had unpleasant experiences in the past that make them particularly sensitive to harsh remarks and tactlessness.

For example, he experienced violence. Or his family faced nationalism. Or he was once overweight and was bullied at school. This means that controversial or rash jokes can hurt such a person especially strongly. This must be taken into account.

4. Remember that you can make a funny joke without offending anyone.

Humor doesn’t have to be prickly, biting, and provocative. Soft and kind jokes can be funny. And it is better to use the most tactful and respectful statements.


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