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It's Actually Okay, If Not Great, To Be Sarcastic At Work!

Nope, we're not sarcastic on this one.

One of the difficulties naturally sarcastic people are met with is being asked if they're sarcastic about something they said or if they're actually serious. And if they say "No, I'm serious" or "No, I'm sarcastic," there's still a feeling that they're joking. One can easily say that sarcasm just makes communication a bit fuzzier, so it's better to keep it at bay especially at work.

But a study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes finds that it's better for us to be sarcastic in the workplace because it can actually make us more creative thinkers.

According to the researchers at Harvard, Columbia, and the European business school INSEAD, when you're sarcastic your brain figures out the psychological distance between the literal and actual meanings of what you're saying. For that to happen you're actually thinking abstractly, and abstract thinking promotes creativity.

If you're a creative thinker, you can come up with innovative ideas, and there's no doubt you'll get the favor of your boss. You might even be promoted before your colleagues.


Apart from benefiting the sarcastic one, sarcasm is also found to benefit others—although maybe not in the same way. In the research, those who heard sarcastic jokes scored higher on creativity tasks than those who didn't. This suggests that sarcasm can help other people be creative.

Researchers of the study state that sarcasm shouldn't then be an immediate no-no in the workplace. Francesca Gino, one of the researchers from Harvard Business School, says that sarcasm can even "help educate individuals about the appropriate circumstances [when] sarcasm can be used."

It's important to note that sarcasm works among people who trust each other. If you're sarcastic to someone who doesn't really know you or you say something sarcastic at the wrong time, you're bound to create conflict.

But there's bound to be bad blood anyway if you get promoted ahead of your officemates, so why not be sarcastic?

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