The question I would like to discuss with you today is “Why do they get offended with my jokes?”. Well, if you have a similar sense of humor as me, this question has probably popped in your mind several times now. At first, I thought it was because of my sarcasm. We can’t deny the fact that sarcasm is not well received by all people, and some even dislike hanging out with sarcastic people. But what I actually found is that when we are talking about sarcasm, we are talking about something that is more than just a habit; it is a character. And just like any other human character, eventually people get used to it, assuming that the relationship with that particular person gets stronger and deeper over time. This is also why it is almost impossible to find a social circle that only consists of people with the same character, isn’t it? Everyone is different and eventually we get used to each other. But, if I – a sarcastic person – meet someone who gets more than just annoyed by sarcastic people, or in other words, hates sarcastic people, then it is likely that we can’t stand each other and probably won’t be talking to each other more than once. Let alone be an acquaintance or be in the same social circle. So, my first point is: blurting out offensive jokes does not mean you have an offensive character. Saying offensive jokes is just a habit. So chill out – it doesn’t say anything about you as a person and you definitely don’t have to change your character for that.
Then we ask, what is the actual cause and how do I fix it? Well, most of the time, when someone gets offended by a joke, it is much more likely that the joke was told by someone close, with whom he has a close relationship with. If it is told by someone we barely know, it would be easier for us to brush it off and probably you won’t be as offended. Humans get offended easily by someone they have an invested relationship in, mainly because in this kind of relationship trust and expectation towards each other has been built, and any actions that can jeopardize that can hurt very much. Because you have no expectation towards that person, and you simply don’t care about what they think and say. This proves that the popular belief that says “The closest people are the ones that can hurt you the most” is super true. So if you have wondered why a certain person felt offended by your jokes, then there is a good chance that person has considered you as one of his closest. And you might also feel the same way about him, if his annoyance has bothered you so much that you wanted to try and fix it.
Why do I go in such great length to point this out? Because, only then you will realize that this is someone close to you that you are dealing with. And since you know this person well, the effort on finding the cause of why he felt offended in the first place, is actually not that hard. Now, assuming that you do have a close relationship with this person, I would suggest you start with recalling everything that you have known about this person’s character. Particularly, note down the things that have annoyed him in the past, no matter how unrelated it may seem at first. The answer will not always be straightforward, so in some cases we need to go the extra mile and find similar circumstances, which can serve as a proxy to the current situation.
Let me give you an example. Let’s call this hypothetical person Adam. Now, let’s say that based on my previous encounters with Adam, I have noted down that he gets annoyed by three things: having to wait in line, inconsiderate people, and rude demeanor. Next, I can then associate which of the three things that has the highest probability to cause his annoyance towards my joke. I remember that in my joke, I commented on an unfortunate situation happening to our mutual friend and no one is helping him. Then, I jokingly said that if the same thing were to happen to Adam, it would be much worse for him. Looking back at this, it seems that my joke, without me noticing, has implied that no one is going to help Adam if he were in the same position, even though he thinks he is very considerate towards others and hates people who are not. It has then been perceived by Adam as attacking his personal belief. There you go. The cause. This is a just simple example of the exercise. In practice, it may become much more complicated than this. You may have crossed off everything in your first list because none of them seems applicable to the situation. Don’t be discouraged. Keep digging. Try to find any other previous situation where the person didn’t show a direct annoyance, but you can guess that he is probably annoyed with what happened. Keep on making the list longer, and eventually you will find the one that clicks.
Finally, once you figure out the reason behind the person’s feelings, tether it in your brain with capital letters, and avoid making the same mistake in the future. But, simply acknowledging it is not enough. That is why we need to move on to the third and last point: fixing it. Apologize in words. Not all people are used to apologizing. If you are not, then this occasion might be the perfect time to train yourself in doing so. Remember, this is someone important in your life. One apology can really go a long way. The moment you finally said your apology, your relationship has grown stronger and better without you noticing.
So, are you ready to make a change? I would love to hear what you think! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, connect with me through my website in LifeForExperts.com, my Twitter in @lifeforexperts, or my Instagram in @lifeforexpert without the letter “s” at the end.
Thank you for trusting Life For Experts. Never stop learning to become an expert in life. I’m Dannis, and I will see you next time. Bye!