Thursday, March 11, 2010

The People I Work With: The Self-Depricator

Humor is a great asset for a person to have in an office. So is modesty and honesty. But sometimes when they get combined, the results are NOT pretty. Take "Jerry", a person I work(ed) with, who is self-depricating, but in a sometimes-racist and increasingly-uncomfortable way.

It's OK to apologize for things you do wrong, but Jerry tries to always blame it on his race in a very stereotypical way. He has a good sense of humor and an accent so the first time he says it you sort of shrug it off and laugh but he 4th or 5th time makes you growingly uncomfortable. You don't know whether to laugh--or run to HR.

This not only makes people at the office uncomfortable who Jerry tells these "jokes" to, but people who are of his same race who hear him talk about these sometimes-hurtful stereotypes. People who don't know better and hear it may also repeat these jokes to others and/or in a public setting and get reprimanded for it. Just because someone is of the race they are making fun of doesn't mean that Human Resources shouldn't talk to them about their dialog. But because it goes unchecked, some people feel increasingly awkward about the situation.

Jerry is someone who needs to be talked to by HR. It's not an easy conversation to have, but it's better to have it now than when someone comes and complains about it. Next in this series we'll look at some more of "the people I work with".


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