The Joke that Went Too Far

Image courtesy of Chris Chan's photostream

Image courtesy of Chris Chan’s photostream

Every week I am required to send a status report to a group of peers and my boss that highlights what I have been working on over the past week and what I am going to tackle in the upcoming week. Each person in the distribution group does the same.   It is an excellent communication tool that helps with inter and cross departmental communication.

A few weeks back I sent out my report with the intro paragraph stating, “I am thankful to work with all most of you”.  It was most definitely a joke to strike-through the all and replace it with most.  I have worked with everyone on the list for 2+ years and wrongly assumed that everyone would know that I was joking.

As a result of my assumption, I may have hurt someone’s feelings.  It was a joke gone too far.

My initial reaction was embarrassment and a heavy heart.  I pride myself on being professional and I was disappointed in myself for making a bad judgment call.  Originally I decided that I would no longer make any jokes for fear of hurting or offending someone.

But the truth is, I don’t want to work in an environment without laughter and jokes.  Most of us spend more time with our work families than our blood families and I love when my team or co-workers keep things light hearted.  For example, I recently asked my team if they had any updates to share and I received the following response, “Other than a reminder to help keep down the pet population, have your pets spayed or neutered, I have nothing.”  I instantly started to laugh and also have fond memories of Bob Barker saying that at the end of every The Price is Right episode.

Ultimately, I do believe that humor has a place in the workplace but I do plan to be more cautious moving forward.

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