What we say is important, but how we say it can sometimes be even more impactful. Putting that little twist of attitude into the conversation can make all the difference in how and what we are communicating. Humor and cleverness work their way into our communications and make a strong impression. Sarcasm and wit are two of the ways that we inject attitude into our communications and it has occurred to me that it is useful and possibly important, to be aware of how their usage is affecting the conversation.
First, what exactly are sarcasm and wit and how are they different?
Sarcasm – a) a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain b) a mode if satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual.(Merriam Webster)
Wit– a) /clever or apt humor b) astuteness of perception or judgement c) a talent for banner or persiflage. (Merriam Webster)
There is a range of both sarcasm and wit that can run from fairly light and fun to very dark and negative or even biting. They are both usually associated with humor, but are very different in their impact. Using them in our communication sets a tone in both how others perceive us and our own mental attitude and how we see others and the world around us. Both can make us laugh, but the feelings behind that laughter and the emotions both engender within us and those we are speaking to are quite different.
We don’t always realize either that difference or how impactful they can be. Becoming more aware is helpful both in communicating more genuinely and keeping our own attitude and energy on a more positive level.
Generally speaking, sarcasm tends to be negative with the intention to wound and can be directed or undirected. Wit is conveyed more in an observational way and is usually not directed toward a target or meant to wound. When we use sarcasm on a regular basis, it has a tendency to make our own attitude toward others and ourselves more negative or critical. So, while we are striking out and wounding others, we are also chipping away at our own self-esteem. There is usually anger behind sarcasm.
Wit is a higher-level expression that does not hold the caustic association that sarcasm does. When I started my life coaching business, I became more aware of the difference between these two different uses of language, tone and humor. I noticed how they were used in social media posts and in general conversation and how they seemed to affect not only the conversation, but people’s mood, demeanor and responses. Doing so led to an intentional effort to use less sarcasm and try to lean more toward wit. One thing that I noticed in doing this was less misunderstanding. I paid attention to how I felt about sarcasm and wit when they were directed toward me and when they were directed at someone else and I just heard them differently. There was definitely a difference and it was decidedly funnier when not directed at me. I noticed that a lot of bullying used statements that were sarcastic in nature. Most of us don’t see it that way, but it can feel that way to the person it is targeted toward.
Why is this important? The more aware we are of how our language affects us and those we communicate with, the more authentically we will be able to communicate and the more genuinely we can express ourselves. I am not saying we should or shouldn’t be sarcastic or witty in our communication. I am saying we should be intentional and know what and how we are communicating and expressing when we use them. Try paying attention and see what you think? Sometimes funny is not as funny as we think it is!
Blog By Kate Olson
Kate is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner & Trainer, Reiki Master, Energy Healer, Life Coach and more. To find out more about her or her work, click the links below:
Get Kate's Book & Journal!
Living in Joyful Resilience: A Roadmap for Navigating Life's Ups & Downs & Simple Soul Thoughts : Collecting Moments of Joy
About the Blog
After 4 years of featuring at least 1 guest Author a month this blog changed in 2020. I loved featuring the posts of other great people who also believe in mind, body, spirit wellness. I will continue to feature articles submitted to me on this topic that align with my own mission. However, finding & reaching out to others is time consuming and I do it for my radio show, Soul Talks and other groups and projects and so for this blog i will be ramping up my own posts and perspective. posting mostly my own blogs. I will be happy & excited to post articles from those who submit them to me.