Steve Willis is a Master Trainer and Vice President of Professional Services at VitalSmarts.
Is using sarcasm always considered a form of violence? What about using mild sarcasm to diffuse tense situations and return to safety?
This is a question I get from time to time, and for a while it was a question I didn’t want to answer because of my personal sarcasm production. But, a little while back while entertaining the question myself, I looked into it and came to the following conclusions:
Webster’s defines sarcasm as 1) harsh or bitter derision or irony 2) a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark. And the Greek origins of the word have reference to biting the lip in rage and rend flesh from a body.
So with this in mind, I would respond to this question by making it clear that sarcasm is a form of violence and that mild sarcasm still cuts—just maybe not as deep. Therefore I would offer the same advice to anyone considering whether to use a form of violence or silence: while you might have more latitude normally, if the conversation is crucial, even mild forms of silence and violence tends to restrict the flow of meaning rather than open the other person to your point of view.