Courage for career women blog

with Vanessa May

How to stand up for yourself when the jokes are at your expense

Home » Imposter Syndrome » How to stand up for yourself when the jokes are at your expense

I’ve been reflecting on situations that bring out my passivity. One of those is humour that isn’t funny.

You know the moments; they’re point-scoring conversations full of quips and innuendos at your expense. They’re conversations that have a derogatory tone where someone is puffing their ego up by putting you down.

I’ve questioned what belief in me drives the passivity.  I know I don’t find it funny. I know it damages our relationship. I want to say something but the best I can manage is “ouch” which doesn’t say much. I think that at least I am giving a signal that it’s hurtful and not colluding with the behaviour but I’m not being clear, direct, or authentic either.  

I realise that what’s holding my directness back is fear – I don’t want to make someone wrong, I don’t want to upset the fake harmony, and I don’t want to be singled out as a killjoy. But in focusing on what I don’t want, I tolerate and condone it. I am not creating a catalyst for change.

When I tap into my authentic self, I know what I want to say.

I want to assert that this is not funny to me. I want to respond to the argument that “it’s banter” by responding “Is that funny to you? It’s not to me.”  

To move out of passivity requires being open to what you truly think and feel. To honour your truth and instead of stewing on it afterwards and letting it fester inside you, let it out and say it.  

Authentic leadership is not about peacekeeping. It’s about discussing the unmentionables, sharing personal feelings and vulnerabilities, and facing into what can feel risky.

If you want to address the banter that you don’t find funny, I invite you to connect to try the following.

  • What limiting belief might be driving the passivity?  
  • What’s the narrative that you have running in your head about what might happen?
  • Connect to your experience and allow yourself to speak and take a stand.  

Remember, it’s not about making anyone wrong because it is not personal. You’re describing a behaviour that has an unintended impact on you. What you’re doing in speaking your truth is stepping into your authentic leadership and being the change you want to see.

If you’d like help moving through passivity into assertiveness and confidence, my empowerment coaching programme is for you. Check it out here.