5 Offensive Jokes to Keep Out of the Office
Just about everyone has seen a comedy show. Many stand-up comedians go to the extreme, saying things they could never say in another situation. Since the comedian is on a stage with a microphone, the audience enters the room with the understanding that the comedian’s statements are not necessarily his or her beliefs — it’s just a joke. But imagine if a person went around the office telling some of the same jokes from the Eddie Murphy Raw comedy special. People would wonder what the heck was wrong with that person. There’s a time and place for everything and, second to your kid’s school, your office is probably the worst place to tell such inappropriate jokes.
If you take a second to think about it, very few jokes are really and truly appropriate for the workplace. A termite walked into a bar and said: “Where’s the bar tender?” Sure, these types of jokes are a bit corny, but good old fashioned puns are one of the few types of jokes you can tell in the office without having to worry too much about offending those around you. This list contains types of jokes you should stay away from in the office as a general rule.
1. That’s What She Said
Most of us have met “that guy.” You know, that one who has an inappropriate comeback to everything, the office “Steve Stifler.” Not only is he annoying, he’s offensive and he makes people uncomfortable.
Companies address sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual behaviors, and examples of appropriate and inappropriate conduct in workshops and handbooks. But there’s almost always that one guy (or even woman) who pushes the line. A Forbes publication reports that, “It’s a fine line between, “You look nice today,” “You look nice today” with a leering grin and an ogling chest-level stare, and “You look nice today” if you’re worried that not looking nice might cost you your job … A company can’t control the actions or words of an individual employee. They can only set policies that create clear expectations of what is acceptable work behavior, and provide an easy, hassle-free avenue to address issues.” Well said. It’s also up to employees to treat each other with respect.
2. A Rabbi and a Priest
Any joke that begins with the phrase “a Rabbi and a Priest” is inappropriate for the workplace. Jokes about religion, race, or sexual orientation are not only offensive to your coworkers — these jokes can get you into trouble. Most handbooks directly address this, and may even label this type of behavior as harassment. Some people think to themselves “it’s just a joke, why is it so serious?” In a Psychology Today report, Gil Greengross, Ph.D. posed the question: “Does racist humor promote racism?”
The publication found that, “When we consider groups that most people discriminate against, and feel they are justified in doing so, disparaging humor towards that group does not foster discriminatory acts against them. On the other hand, for groups for whom the prejudice norm is shifting, and there is still no consensus not to discriminate against (women, gays, Muslims, and so on), if you hold negative views against one of these groups, hearing disparaging jokes about them “releases” inhibitions you might have, and you feel it’s ok to discriminate against them.”
So a joke may or may not result in increased incidences of racist acts. Either way, these types of jokes are among the most offensive types, and should be kept as far away from the office as possible.
3. Practical Jokes
Imagine going to work each day and consistently being the target of some immature coworker’s pranks. He or she hides your belongings, writes or says hurtful things about you in front of others, and moves your chair so that you fall out of your seat. They say it’s a joke, but it bothers you, and you don’t want to say anything because you’ll look like you’re making a big deal out of it.
Workplace bullying is unfortunately more common than you may think. According to a 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute survey, “27 percent of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work; another 21 percent have witnessed it; 72 percent are aware that workplace bullying happens.” Practical jokes that occur on a repeated basis are a prime example of such bullying, especially when one person is made to feel singled out.
4. Jokes About Appearance
“Oh, do you need me to reach that for you? I bet you do, shorty.” Making fun of coworkers about their weight, height, clothing, or other aspects of their physical appearance is completely inappropriate. Even if your coworker shows up at work with the strangest looking hairdo you’ve ever seen, it’s not your place to tell them that their hair looks “jacked up” or ask them if they used a lawnmower to cut their hair.
5. Political Jokes
How many congressmen does it take to screw in a light bulb? Although there may not be any congressmen or women around your office, these types of jokes are often in bad taste. There’s a reason why we’re told to keep politics out of workplace conversations. Due to the hot button nature of these topics, it’s better to keep your political jokes to yourself while at work. The same goes for political issues like abortion, women’s rights, and immigration.