In Handy Tips, we find ways that can improve your life and make it easier and explain why these tips work. Today, we will tell you why sarcasm is useful in interpersonal communication.
Do not be afraid of sarcasm, it may be useful for both who produce it and perceive it.
How does it work?
Sarcasm is rightfully considered one of the most difficult forms of communication. It often leads to a misunderstanding, and even if you managed to avoid it, even the speaker’s intonations might be considered offensive. Besides, some believe that people hide their insecurity under the guise of sarcasm.
“After all, when you come right down to it, sarcasm can be used as a subtle form of bullying — and most bullies are angry, insecure, or cowardly,” writes psychologist Clifford N. Lazarus.
Researchers from the Harvard Business School came to a different conclusion. According to them, the ability to perceive sarcasm increases creativity and activates abstract thinking. The study involved three hundred people. Respondents answered questions that tested their creative skills. For example, they needed to find a common word for chocolate, gold, and interior, and the right answer was the word “bar.” After a sarcastic conversation, the participants coped with the task much better.
Sarcastic conversation activates abstract thinking.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed similar results. The study involved 375 students. They were asked to solve several riddles requiring a creative approach. They had to proceed with the task after listening to a conversation between the company’s client and its representative. Some conversations were friendly, while others were clearly aggressive. In the second case, the participants did better. As researchers believe, it was easier for them to concentrate on the task. But this is only effective if people are able to receive sarcasm; otherwise, it will worsen the relationships within the team and damage the corporate culture.
“There are much more effective ways of boosting creativity which are less damaging to the climate of a team or an organization,” said Michael West, a business psychologist of Lancaster University.
Basically, the effectiveness of sarcasm depends on the person’s mood and the ability to correctly understand and receive a sarcastic remark. If the person is not in the right mood, the interlocutor may have a feeling of conflict, and this will badly affect relationships with others.