Last week on Notable we discussed one of the most common bad habits of young professionals: social smoking. This week we tackle yet another common bad habit, left over from our younger years, which can also wreak havoc on our reputation: telling derogatory jokes.
There are many big comedians making a lot of money telling derogatory jokes. In fact, some of the biggest names in comedy have reached incredible success due to acts based purely on such humour. Well guess what, you’re not Louis C.K. or Chris Rock. You’re an intelligent young professional in search of respect and success in both your working and social worlds. While telling derogatory jokes in the workplace or in your social life might get you some immediate attention and quick laughs, in the long run you may be damaging your reputation and causing negative affects on the world around you in ways you are not even aware of.
You look simple
You worked so hard to get that education, learn the job, and work your way up to where you are today. Why would you want to counteract that image by spewing off derogatory jokes? Sure you may genuinely think such jokes are clever and funny, and others may too, but by telling racist, homophobic, and sexist jokes you cheapen your hard-earned intellect and creativity. Derogatory jokes are easy – anyone can tell them and anyone can understand them; it doesn’t take much. Are you just anyone? If you want to be a jokester, invest in more highbrow material that better reflects your actual level of class and intelligence.
You’re not a kid anymore
In addition to displaying a lack of intelligence, telling derogatory jokes also demonstrates a lack of maturity. Not only are you seeking attention in a way that can come off as pretty desperate, you are also showcasing what it is you find funny. What big client, partner, or employer is going to trust you with serious and important tasks when they know you find “fag” jokes funny? If you want to be known as capable and reliable, and not just as a young professional, then ditch the high school humour.
They might be faking it and you might get canned
Whether it’s a big roar or a small chuckle, the sounds of laughter in response to your derogatory jokes may give you the impression that your humour is appreciated. Don’t let this reaction fool you. Just like you, many of your peers and coworkers are simply trying to fit in, to be part of the group. Don’t assume that because someone laughed or didn’t speak up, that your derogatory joke concerning race, gender, religion, the disabled, or sexual orientation, didn’t offend them or make them uncomfortable. Additionally, don’t assume that someone won’t go complain about you to others, including superiors, just because they give you a seemingly positive response. The workplace is to be a space of neutrality, where people can focus on the task at hand without fear of intolerance. If you make someone feel uncomfortable – or worse, unsafe – expect to be in big trouble.
Stop spreading the hate
Aside from your job and reputation, the negative affects that telling derogatory jokes is capable of having reaches far beyond you. When you are out in the world you are always having an affect on others, so whether you are actually racist, homophobic, etc., or just find such jokes funny, keep that negativity to yourself. Intolerance of others can lead to violence, to the degree of wars, and by telling hateful jokes you are only furthering such problems. Do your reputation and the world a favour and stop spreading the hate.