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Crucial Influence

What Happened: How to Eliminate Sarcasm

This letter was received in response to a question Kerry Patterson answered in the June 22, 2011 Crucial Skills Newsletter titled, “How to Eliminate Sarcasm.”

Dear Kerry,

Your response to my question was very useful in helping me find the next steps I needed to take.

I shared your article with my wife and family and explained to them that I wanted to change. They recognized the behavior straight away and agreed these were exactly the type of responses they could expect from me—sometimes humorous but often hurtful sarcasm.

I invited them to continue calling me on that behavior each and every time they saw it. They entered their role with unexpected enthusiasm, and I ate from a humble pie dish as I started to learn new habits.

Having gotten buy-in from my most severe critics, I took the next step. I explained to my work colleagues that I exhibited this behavior, but I wanted to change and needed their help to do so. After some initial doubt as to my sincerity, they too entered into the spirit and have been open in their feedback.

Your advice in bringing everyone into the picture was instrumental in helping me along this path. I occasionally lapse into sarcastic behavior, but I have a group of folks around me more than willing to continue to help me. I sometimes forget, but others do not and I get that direct, non-punishing feedback I asked them to provide.


Editor’s Note: If you would like to share similar feedback about how the authors’ advice has helped you, please e-mail us at

You can learn more insights and skills like this in Crucial Influence

1 thought

  1. Heather

    Congratulations! I think it’s so great that you recognized how damaging sarcasm can be and were willing to humble yourself in order to change. That takes a lot of courage. AND…I got a kick out of hearing how enthusiastic everyone was about “helping” you.

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