Your boss may use sarcasm to make an important point or as an innocent tease. A sarcastic boss may tell you he "loves" the way you keep your desk tidy as a way of letting you know he is displeased with the clutter on your desk. A boss who sarcastically remarks that you just set a new record for showing up late the most days in a row is letting you know your tardiness is not acceptable. Sarcasm becomes a problem when used to demean or hurt someone. If your boss is making hurtful sarcastic remarks to you, you can take appropriate steps to help alleviate the problem.
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Ignore sarcastic remarks directed at you and coworkers. Avoid drawing attention to sarcasm that is hurtful or rude. Keep your communications professional and do not respond to sarcastic remarks; your sarcastic reply will satisfy your boss's need for attention.
Compliment your boss when she makes a sarcastic remark about you or a co-worker. Tell your boss how efficient she is or how much you appreciate her giving you the opportunity to learn. Speak kind words to diffuse a tense situation and prevent a sarcastic reply. Change the subject if sarcasm continues and you cannot escape the situation.
Avoid situations or doing things that seem to correlate with sarcastic remarks from your boss. Notice whether your boss makes a sarcastic remark to you when your desk is untidy, you come to work late or when you spend too much time in the rest room. Keep conversations professional and relevant to your work.
Tips and warnings
- Kindly ask your boss to explain what she meant by her sarcastic remark. The frequency of sarcastic remarks may decrease when met with a polite request for an explanation every time it happens. Keep a diary of sarcastic remarks made to you and others in the event you need to consult your human resources manager or an attorney.
- Persistent sarcastic remarks about your appearance, your gender, sexual orientation, disability, race or ethnic origins may rise to the level of harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment or workplace bullying. Consult with your human resources manager if this is happening to you.
- Do not tolerate threats, even if they are phrased in a sarcastic manner. Ask your human resources manager for guidance if your boss threatens you.
- Do not return a sarcastic remark with one of your own. This will only exacerbate the situation and make difficult working conditions worse.
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