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Osayi Emokpae-Lasisi: When Your Jokes Start to Cause Real Pain to Other People



dreamstime_xl_34572459Most people think they’re funnier than they really are. Except me, of course, I’m actually quite hilarious (I’m joking). My rule of thumb is that a joke is no longer a joke if it hurts someone else. You may think it’s not a big deal to talk about someone’s style of dressing, or the hair, or the smile, or the way they talk.

After all, to you it’s not a big deal; but when you expose people like that, and publicly use a joke that invites others to laugh and find amusement in someone else, you cause pain.

We are all walking around with unresolved pain, and fears and sensitivities. We may not talk about them, and we may act as if your words don’t hurt us, but deep down, they do. Deep down I’ll never forget the first time one of my superiors joked about the way I dress in a meeting.

It motivated me to want to be better, but the hurt was still there. Perhaps it would have been better if they had taken me aside and talked to me, but they didn’t.

I improved. I dressed better. They got what they wanted, but I always (at least a little bit) resented them.

We want people that feel free to just be themselves in the organization. We want people who are not afraid, and who feel they can trust us with their concerns and secrets and fears – but when we do things that hurt people, we do things that take away a bit of trust at a time. And trust is not something that is built easily.

Trust is one of those things that you hold preciously as an egg – a fragile precious egg. Something you know that if it’s lost, it is a loss to you personally and to your organization.

Perhaps most importantly, we have to see inherent value in the individual, and we have to realize that they too have a purpose in this life, and we should not be stumbling blocks in that purpose. We should not purposely add baggage to the baggage that people are already carrying around.

We have the power to move people to greatness or to mediocrity, how will you use your power?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Osayi Lasisi is a leader in growth marketing. She is passionate about marketing, and has been helping brands reach more new b2b or b2c customers using paid channels. You can connect with her and find out more -


  1. Mystique

    June 15, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Osayi, may you live long; the Lord will grant you the desires of your heart……. thank you for this write-up.

    • Osayi

      June 17, 2016 at 4:56 am

      Amen thank you so much

  2. Catherine

    June 15, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Brilliant write-up; well done. In as much as I have been a victim of this, I am sure there have been occasions where I have done same to others. I pray to God that he helps me be more mindful of the words I utter; that way they build and not destroy.

    I would like to add that, we can also help out people who crack cruel jokes or say the most inconsiderate things by letting them know how it makes us feel. That way, we are also using our power of reasoning to change them. A number of times, the intention is not to hurt people with words, but it just comes off that way. Effective dialogue can therefore address these issues, and help people use communication in a more positive way.

    Kudos once again for an excellent piece.

    • Osayi

      June 17, 2016 at 5:02 am

      Good point Catherine,
      Some times people intend to hurt others, but sometimes they don’t. The challenge is that we are quick to forget how hurtful it was being the butt of the joke and we are quick to make others the butt of the joke because we want to be funny, we want attention, we want people to like us, but there are other ways to get attention.

      Hope that helps…

      And sometimes, especially when it’s a superior we may not find it easy to tell them that they hurt us with their jokes, that’s why I like to bring it up, so we all start thinking about it.

  3. Jessica Guzman

    June 15, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Every single joke I can think of *could* potentially cause someone, somewhere “real pain.”

    In fact, I challenge you to present one joke that absolutely could never cause someone else pain.

    Those jokes don’t exist. You know why? Because we can’t control other people’s feelings.

    Even if I tell a joke about a cupcake, some woman in my office might tell me, “I was hurt by your cupcake joke because my son almost choked to death on a cupcake. And your joke reminded me of how scared I was when that happened. So, please, no more cupcake jokes.”

    But, that doesn’t mean my joke is bad. It just means that woman had a very specific experience that is unlike everyone who laughed. That’s not my fault. And it isn’t the joke’s fault.

    • banana

      June 16, 2016 at 8:19 am

      hmmmnnn, real food for thought.

    • Banke

      June 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      You missed the point.

    • Osayi

      June 17, 2016 at 4:59 am

      Good point, there are some people that are sensitive to everything – that’s not what I’m talking about here.
      I’m talking about jokes that use others as the butt of the joke…if you used someone’s love for cupcake as a joke that can be offensive because you don’t know if they are struggling with an addiction or with obesity…but if you use yourself and your funny experience with cupcake and someone gets offended then it may be that they are a bit too sensitive.

      Hope that helps give you clarity Jessica.

  4. Ever Green

    June 16, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    There are jokes that bring people down and it shows that the person that is telling the joke is cruel and insensitive just like the person that compare waje’s size with remote control, some people will body shame you and I was once victim in my office but i decided to stand up for my self and you know what I gave her a bit of my own and you know what she said that i was aggressive but it was not nice when you make cruel joke about my figure and you expect me to keep quiet, especially when you have your own flaws and your figure is not perfect . Lailai I gave it to her where it pain her the most.

    To every one who was a victim of psycho’s joke, serve it to them very hot and do not allow any one to make you a laughing stock because if you dont stop them, they will keep on doing it over and over again and before you know it, they will give you a tag.

    • Osayi

      June 17, 2016 at 4:57 am

      Yes body shaming is extremely sad… I don’t know why people do that. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

  5. Saminu Eedris

    June 17, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Hello Osayi,

    It’s really funny how people joke with other people’s body and at the same time not FUNNY.
    I’ve been a victim of hurtful jokes for over a year now….they will say I walk like robot or something like that and I’ve tried as much as i can to change that and nothing seems to convince them.

    This kinda joke really hurt!

  6. Francisca

    June 17, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Osayi, great post. It is high time people understand the difference between jokes and insults. It is always better to find humor in happenings around you instead of cracking offensive jokes.

  7. Ruth

    June 17, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Great post, Osayi.
    Like you rightly said, if a joke must be made, then you must be the butt of it. Someone else shouldn’t be the object of ridicule because you want to feel “cool” or score cheap points. Thanks for this reminder.

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