For a very short time a long time ago, I worked for a company selling IT solutions. The job was all wrong for me for many reasons, and so I quickly pursued another career. Of all the things I loathed about the job, No. 1 on my list was the behavior of a co-worker with whom I shared an office.
He was the classic office clown. He told jokes and played pranks. He had a sarcastic remark for everything. To put it bluntly, he was immature and crass. I’ll never forget how uncomfortable he made me or how relieved I was the day I realized he was out of my life for good.
Sometimes I feel bad having so much disdain for the guy because office clowns typically use humor to cover up their own insecurities. Degrading or humiliating someone else makes them feel better about themselves. His behavior may have been a coping mechanism.
Now before I ruffle some feathers. Don’t get me wrong. Not all office clowns are mean-spirited. Some are simply good-natured people who want to lighten things up and others just like the attention.
However, while some people view an office clown’s antics as funny or harmless, others are suffering in silence from the daily barrage of offensive remarks or pranks. If you are one of the sufferers and a class clown’s behavior affects your productivity—or offends you—address it immediately. Take this advice from The Co-Worker From Hell:
- Don’t encourage the behavior. If you laugh at the person’s antics, it’s a sure bet the clowning around will continue. Immediately delete the jokes he or she forwards to you via email. Don’t comment on a recent gag. If the person stops by to joke or casually talk, tell him or her you are busy with work and will catch up with him or her later. Keep a straight face and the person will likely look for another audience. Comedians don’t perform to an unresponsive crowd.
- Address the behavior. If the clowning around is stalling progress on a project, for example, don’t let the person get away with it. Say: Terry, I love your sense of humor, but we are under a tight deadline and need to move forward. Let’s focus.”
- Redirect the person. When the jokes or sarcastic remarks start flying, ignore them and say: “Debbie, right now we are focusing on _________. What solutions can you offer?”
What office personalities do you struggle with the most?
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