I have often thought that one of the reasons that I have been successful in developing relationships in HR is my ability to look at situations through the lens of other people, whether that’s the manager or the employee. Of course, it might also be my amazing personality and sense of humour.
After all, it’s this same self-decribed amazing sense of humour that helps put people at ease during interviews, helps diffuse tense moments in meetings, put a smile on people’s face when they are feeling a little stressed, and contributes to witty banter with colleagues.
And it’s this witty banter that helps break down the preconceived notion of stuffiness that precedes HR. It has let me playfully chide managers with extreme ideas, jokingly hint at truths, and laugh (rather than cry) about the challenges we all face.
This sense of humour has opened doors for me and allowed me to sit among colleagues that might have otherwise not been comfortable to have me there. Specifically, I’m talking about my male colleagues – both before I was in HR and afterwards.
My passcard has been my ability and willingness to laugh about myself, laugh about situations, and laugh about people’s behaviours. This means that at some point and time, I’ve laughed about women and the messed up things we often do.
Please take note that I have said laugh “about” and not “at”.
This is an important distinction to me. The problem is that it’s not a distinction that is obvious from the outside and because of that, I have been called out on this…rightly so…and I have had to apologize.
Over the past few weeks there have been more than a few comments made that I laughed along with. They were jokes and I fully recognize that. They were just comments and don’t necessarily reflect what those people actually think. I get that. And I don’t want to be that stoney-faced “HR” that doesn’t have a sense of humour.
Or worse, be called a feminist.
My sense of humour is a source of pride to me. I see the humourous side to most situations, I like to laugh and I like to make others laugh. However, this pride in my sense of humour should not overshadow my pride in being a women.
My desire to be accepted into the chats with my colleagues should not be stronger than my desire to to be accepted as an intelligent and confident person and a feminist, because it is NOT a bad word.
The reality is that no matter how jokingly it was said:
- sexual harassment is not funny
- calling a strong female a bitch is not funny
- referring to someone a dumb blonde is not funny
- joking that a male candidate could take advantage of an opportunity to get a mistress is not funny
And so I’m calling myself out.
Even though I knew what my opinions were on these comments, I am irritated with what I actually did on the outside and worse, the feelings that I ignored.
Maybe it’s having a daughter who is now a young woman or maybe I’ve finally reached a point where I truly don’t care whether people think I’m being “too sensitive”.
Because when I look at these recent events through the lens of my daughter and of other women, I see that there was humour in these situations, but it was not to laugh about what was being said, but to laugh at the idea that it was okay to say shit like that and get away with it.
No more. I feel like I need to atone for biting my tongue and laughing along when I really should have used my biting humour to make a point.
Happy International Women’s Day.