31 Aug 2016

Debrett’s Ask The Expert: How do I deal with the joker in my office?

In our latest advice column for City AM, the Debrett’s Office Politics Expert advises a reader on how to respond when a colleague makes bad-taste jokes.

Q: I get on well with my boss, but he’s often cracking jokes that make me uncomfortable. Occasionally these can border on sexist and even racist comments, but more often they’re just rude remarks dressed up as banter – making fun of someone’s appearance or accent, for example. I don’t want to seem po-faced, but I’m concerned that he risks causing serious offence. Also, his “jokes” really bother me. How can I take him to task?

The recent news that a comedian in Canada was fined thousands of dollars for a joke about a young disabled singer has been received with a mixture of outrage and unease. The joke itself has been roundly condemned, but many have questioned the decision of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal to penalise an individual’s freedom of expression.

In the professional realm, this same freedom is necessarily moderated out of consideration for our colleagues and in promotion of an inclusive and diverse workforce. Jokes that may offend or alienate, however lightly intended, are never appropriate at work, and personal comments, even if complimentary, should be made with caution in case they’re interpreted as an unwanted advance. Read more...

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