How to react when someone makes an inappropriate joke

How to react when someone makes an inappropriate joke

I am in need of some pithy comments to shut down folks when they start to tell stories or jokes in my presence that involve stereotyping of any sort-race, sex, age, nationality, culture, sexuality,  etc.  


I don’t want to smile and quietly cringe anymore.





Dear Dumbstruck-


Ah the age old question of how to cast a pithy remark….

We have all been in that situation where something uncomfortable has been said in a story or joke (unless of course you are a racist, xenophobe, homophobe or sexist then nothing can offend you except common decency.) 


So what do we say or display in our response to such a transgression. Here are a few suggestions:


If you overhear this at another table of which you are not a guest of, a simple over the shoulder with one raised eyebrow is about all that’s appropriate. You don’t want to get into an argument with people you don’t know. 


If you are at a party as a guest and are regaled by a story by another guest that is inappropriate there are a few reactions that might be appropriate.  If you are one on one, simply stop them mid-sentence with an upward hand and say (if you want to be really pithy) “that story was in very poor taste, not unlike your outfit” and walk off. Be sure to say it ever so quietly. 


If you are in a group and an inappropriate story is told, simply interrupt and say ” excuse me, I find this story very offensive and I need to excuse myself.” You may find that your comment emboldens others to do the same.


If you are with a group of people that you believe to be friends, try and stop them before they have a chance to finish. Say something along the lines of, “I am sure you don’t mean to tell that story; it doesn’t seem at all like you. I have always held you in a much higher regard. I hope I haven’t been wrong.”


That would give the person the opportunity to reassess their intent and possible shortcomings, making you a blessing…..


But if you are on your second martini and can’t take any more of this nonsense. I would practice the “heel spin” and  go in for a –

“From the story (or comment) that you just told, it would appear that you think you are somehow better than others. In particular _____________.  I have many friends who are ____________, and from where I stand (tilt your head down, slide glass down your nose and glare) you aren’t one of them. I would take a good look in a full length mirror before I start casting stones dear.”  At that point spin on heels and walk off……


(Now if you are one that enjoys more dramatic flair you must be prepared. Consider carrying a few small stones in your purse or pocket at all times.  When your “friends” start an inappropriate story or fling a nasty remark, pull out a small stone and hand it to them.  Smile, heel spin and say over your shoulder as you walk away…”Yet without sin.”)


I hope this is helpful, and if not there is always pepper spray!


I’m not judging, I’m just saying….