Are You The Only One Who Thinks You’re Funny?

Do you know what restaurants do at their weekly leadership huddle? I didn’t know until I started attending some of my client’s weekly meetings. Each Tuesday I join them in sampling a new recipe or food. One Tuesday at 9:30 in the morning, I also found myself sampling a daiquiri. The next month, a vegetable paté (I didn’t like it and neither did many members of the team) and a pumpkin soup (amazing!).

And then there was the day that we sampled a new slider recipe. The manager, Bob, said loudly, “Of course Saheed won’t have this. He won’t sample meat. He’s too good for us.”

Everyone, including Saheed, laughed.

And then Bob continued. As the team discussed whether the sliders had enough seasoning and flavor, Bob said, “Well, it doesn’t have to be too spicy. The Indians won’t be eating it anyway, will they Saheed?”

Again the group laughed, a nervous laughter, and everyone looked around to see each others’ reactions.

After the meeting, I spoke to Bob. “You know, singling out Saheed based on his dietary choices creates tension among the team, and I wonder how Saheed feels?”

Bob said, “Oh, I am just teasing him.”

I continued, “I am concerned that your intentions are not creating the impact you would like. I found the comments offensive.”

“Well,” Bob retorted, “you need to get a sense of humor and lighten up.”

“Teasing” is often a form of microaggression. Instead of creating inclusion, it magnifies differences.

Now I fully understand why the staff complains to me of trust, openness, and acceptance in this organization. How would you or your organization handle these situations?

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2 Comments
  • Reply

    Great point, Karen. As someone who has been a vegetarian for over 30 years, I have heard similar comments/jokes. Though I always laugh them off, inside I always wonder how they would feel if the situation were turned around. More important, the person making the comment has ultimately lost some of my respect and trust.

    • Karen Snyder
      Reply

      Hi Lorijo,

      Always great to hear from you! And you raise such terrific points. Anytime we mock another person’s lifestyle, we are also mocking them. I can’t say I have never done this, nor can I promise I never will in the future, but I certainly try to be curious and respectful rather than any form of judgmental.

      I hope you are having a great summer!

      Karen

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