All of us have experienced the sting of sarcasm at one time or another. On the surface we normally dismiss it as a little humor, but it can also be extremely hurtful. Typically, the content of the statement is not the issue; it’s how the tone of those words is expressed.
Realize that when someone expresses sarcasm, it is a mirror to the person’s own insecurities and a self-destructive way to strengthen self-respect. How can people be happy with themselves when their apparent joy is the result of being verbally destructive toward another person? Sarcasm is often hurtful to the recipient, and it diminishes the character and the self-respect of the individual delivering the sarcasm.
I have also found it interesting how sarcastic individuals seem gleeful and feel clever after they shoot their sarcastic venom. It is never clever to demean another person, for it is a self-poisoning attribute. In many respects, sarcasm has become a part of everyday existence. It can be in jest, but many times it is used as an underhanded subtle attack on others.
What do we teach our children when we are an example of being sarcastic? It encourages a belief that sarcasm is an acceptable behavior and supports the illusion that sarcasm is a positive attribute because it generates attention. We need to embolden our children, and their friends, to take the high road by being respectful and not degrading. It will pay dividends in the long run and only generate greater individual leadership and peer respect.
In the process of conducting constructive discourse in an adult or business setting, there is no place for sarcasm. It distracts attention away from the discourse and redirects purposeful discussion to personal accusations and innuendos. In many cases, sarcastic remarks are used as a defense mechanism to attempt to relinquish accountability for the potential negative outcome of the discourse. Inevitably this is a losing strategy, both personally and professionally.
Finally, sarcasm is an attempt to substantiate superior intellect over others and justify an elitist attitude. Sarcasm may appear clever and humorous at the time it is used, but no one takes sarcasm as a serious indicator of an individual’s level of intelligence, integrity, and character. Most important, sarcasm deteriorates the amount of trust that is established between people.
The old saying, “If you have nothing positive to say about someone don’t say it,” is in need of being reinvigorated in our ever-increasing verbally sniping society. So enjoy taking the high road and establishing a non-sarcastic example that is respected by all.
Integrity is an important core value, is a positive leadership trait, and is a principle of behavior used commonly to define the character of a person. So I ask you, “What is integrity?” The Oxford Dictionary definition of integrity states, “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles: moral uprightness.”
How do you know if a person possesses integrity? Well, do you enjoy dealing with people who are indecisive, say one thing and then do the opposite, or who are inconsistent? Probably not. When you are around individuals like that you often lose respect for them because they are not displaying integrity.
Consistency in behavior is the first step to understanding if a person has integrity. However, that’s not the whole picture. You can probably cite many examples of people who have been consistent in their convictions and beliefs, and in the process have destroyed societies and decimated humanity.
The other component that gives integrity its meaning and therefore credibility is morality. Morality is defined in the same dictionary as, “The extent to which an action is right or wrong.” Certainly that definition can be left to an enormous amount of interpretation. There are some who believe that exterminating others simply because they do not believe in the same God as they do is completely moral. Regardless of some form of structured religion, I define morality in my life as how I treat another human being, and I believe we should treat one another with dignity and respect.
Finally, integrity is the barometer in evaluating the level of trust within a relationship, family, and organization. Trust is the glue of every established human connection. When trust is broken, the relationship is never the same. It is comparable to a broken bone. It may heal, but it is never what it was. Therefore, keep the bond of your relationships continually strong by consistently striving to be a person of integrity. By living a life of integrity and maintaining that bond of trust with those around you, you will have established the character of an individual respected by all.
What are your expectations of a leader? What characteristics make a leader effective? Is it their honesty, charisma, knowledge, determination, communication skills, and fairness?
I’m sure we could all list a myriad of characteristics that would influence our perception of a leader’s effectiveness, and any of those attributes implemented successfully may accurately define that leader. In my experiences as a leader in the military, the corporate world, running my own business, service to the community, and most important, my family, I have recognized four common characteristics that are inherent in the results of effective leadership. They are:
1. A solidification of trust is generated within the entity being led, producing positive and constructive levels of communication.
2. An increase in loyalty to the leader, and dedication to the mission, vision, and the core values that embody the entity we are leading.
3. An ability to produce greater motivation among followers to execute the process in achieving the objective.
4. An aptitude to establish consistent professional conduct, resulting in mutual respect and dedication among those being led.
We all set an example to others on a daily basis, and the effectiveness of that example is a direct result of the approach stated above. To lead is an honored opportunity to have bestowed upon any individual, but with it comes the responsibility of leadership and the aftermath of the leader’s efforts. During the process of leading those we are responsible for, it takes enormous personal strength to take accountability for the mistakes made and tremendous humility when success is achieved. Be a leader of principle, strength, and competence, but most important, be a leader of honesty and moral fortitude. There is No Excuse!
In my speeches, I often ask people, “How do you motivate others?” More specifically, “How do you motivate your children, friends, colleagues, employees, and the person you are in love with?”
How would you answer this question?
Here’s the simplest answer: The best way to motivate others is to make those around you feel valued.
When employees walk through the doors of your workplace, do they feel like they’re valued, or do they feel like personnel? When your children come home after school, do they feel like valued young adults, or do they feel like just kids? When you see your spouse at the end of the day, do you make him/her feel special, or do you treat him/her like a distant co-worker?
If you treat your employees or co-workers like personnel rather than valued people, they are less motivated to work hard and go the extra mile. If you treat your children like kids rather than valued young adults, they are less motivated to listen to you. If you treat your spouse like a number rather than a valued human being, he/she is less motivated to support you or your career.
Without question, the workplace is more productive, a family more harmonious, and a society more humane when we all take steps to make others feel valued. Therefore, take a moment or two to make those around you feel valued. This can take place with something as simple as expressing an amount of appreciation for their efforts or sharing with them an acknowledgement of a leadership characteristic you believe they possess.
I have witnessed a turnaround in the low morale of organizations simply by having colleagues share with one another positive attributes about each other. As a result, those who have been on the receiving end of those comments are more dedicated and committed to the organization and their colleagues because they feel valued and needed.
Take a moment at the dinner table tonight and ask your children to share a positive attribute about their siblings. I guarantee you those siblings will be more committed to, and bonded with, one another after that interaction.
Enjoy the pleasure of motivating and encouraging those around you. It is forever appreciated.