Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

ARTICLES

#8

DEROGATORY JOKES WHERE NO ONE OBJECTS

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People often feel that making a derogatory joke or comment when they’re “not hurting anyone” is ok. For example, they may reason that it’s alright to poke fun at Asian facial features if no one in the group is Asian. It may appear that no one is part of the joke’s target group and no one objects. These jokes may seem harmless. “We’re not hurting anyone.”

 

They’re not harmless. The people in the group may have no considerable prejudice or hatred towards a particular group; however, with every derogatory joke or comment that is told, the participants’ respect or concern for those people diminishes. It builds an “us vs. them” mentality and reduces acceptance of others. It will affect anyone who overhears, and finally, who’s to say that someone in the group is not offended? What if the joke is about gay men, and one of the group is wrestling with his sexual identity? Just because someone doesn’t object out loud, it doesn’t mean they don’t feel hurt inside.

 

TRY THIS:

 

Take the individual(s) aside and discuss your concerns. Find out if their negative comments are coming from a place of prejudice (fear or ignorance of those unlike themselves) or because they feel it’s “innocent” humour. Encourage a discussion around how saying jokes like that reduces respect, not to mention potentially offending those who overhear.  If they are influenced by others in the workplace, you'll have to educate more than just one person. Let everyone know you don’t support this in the workplace.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“I heard the joke you made earlier. I wanted to let you know that it disturbed me, because it was poking fun in a mean way about (race, ethnic origin, gender, etc). Can you let me know why you’re telling jokes like this at work?”

 

“You had the group laughing when you made that joke earlier. I am concerned because it made nasty fun of (group). Each time any of us makes a derogatory comment about others, we lose respect for the people involved. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if you overheard others making (racist, ethnic, religious) derogatory jokes about you or your family's background or beliefs. I have to ask you not to make jokes like that at work.”

 

(After being told no one minds) “I understand you feel it’s harmless. Keep in mind, though, that we lower our own standards and acceptance of others when we talk about others like that. As well, how do you really know that no one minds? What if someone has (group) in their background? You need to be aware that this is not ok in the workplace.”

 

 

Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP

 

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.

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© STEPHEN HAMMOND - HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.    
 
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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT