Aflac recently conducted auditions to find a new spokes-duck when the most recent spokes-duck, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, lost the job. According to Aflac, Gottfried went overboard with jokes he posted on Twitter about the recent earthquake in Japan. If Gottfried didn’t know at the time he was joking about the Japan earthquake that Aflac does 75% of their business in Japan; he knows now.
Most workplace jokers don’t post their jokes on Twitter, like Gottfried did. In fact, most workplace jokers are more subtle with their actions, since they know some things they say could arguably be grounds for termination. Although you might not be able to fire workplace jokers who offend or embarrass you and others with their off-color jokes, there are other ways to deal with them at the office.
Speak up and say something when workplace jokers offend
If you work with someone whose sense of humor you find offensive; speak up and say something. You might not be able to stop the person from sharing their jokes or comments with everyone else, but you might be able to stop them from saying certain things around you. Sometimes people will slip and say things that may be out of character. You have to use your common sense judgment to handle that. However, if someone is a repeat offender, so to speak; speak up.
Walk away from offensive conversations with workplace jokers
If you work with a workplace joker, and feel you are not able to say something to them without repercussions, you have to develop the ability to end the conversation and walk away. If you know that someone has a habit of being distasteful and joking about certain things in the workplace that you find offensive, find an excuse to end the conversation. You can always cut a workplace conversation short if there is unfinished work to be done, meetings to attend or deadlines to meet.
Contact human resources for repeat offenders
No one wants to be a whistle-blower at work, but sometimes when workplace jokers go too far, with the wrong person, their jokes can cost the company money in litigation losses. If you believe that a colleague’s sense of humor, jokes and/or pranks are detrimental to other employees and the company, bring human resources into the loop. Many human resource offices have routine training for staff on acceptable workplace behaviors that could cover sense of humor issues. Policies on harassment and office technology use, can actually incorporate guidelines on behavior for workplace jokers.
NPR.org – Comedian Gilbert Gottfried Jokes About Japan, Loses Aflac Job