Name for this social / psyco situation?

I’d like to know if there’s a name for this situation.

I got into some trouble at worrk. I made a wisecrack about the boss, and he didn’t think it was very funny. He gave me an official reprimand for insubordination. I’ll get over it.

But maybe not. See, I made a comment thinking he’d take it with a sense of humor - he didn’t, he was insulted. I didn’t think that what I said was that big of a deal, I’m quite certian anybody could have said the same thing to me, and I’d shake it off.

So now I’m left with the feeling that I shouldn’t tolerate any kind of similar comments from him without taking offense. That is, I’m going to be on guard against him, and not let him get away with remarks that I’d normally not care about. I feel like, in order to be fair, I have to change my level of tolerance for this sort of thing.

Is there a name for this feeling, or social situation? I have to believe it’s pretty common. Two people have a different level of tolerance for offhand comments, and when one takes offense, the other feels justified in becoming similarly intolerant towards that person.

“non-reciprocal offense”? or something like that?

I would think “non reciprocal offense,” if anything, would be when one perosn is offended but the other would not be from the same comment. If one changes their views in light of the situation you discribed, that would be (based on the original term you gave) reciprocated offense. But I’m not so sure these are actually medical terms. If you got really nitpicky it could almost be described as hypocritical. That is, you made a comment to someone based on the fact that YOU wouldn’t be offended by it, but NOW if they made the same comment to you, you WOULD be offended by it.

I believe the technical term is “being a jackass”.
Work situations are diferent from just a couple of guys shooting the shit. Whether or not your boss was truly insulted, he does not want to create an environment where employees feel free to undermine his authority by making him the butt of jokes. Someone else sees and next thing you know, he can’t get anyone to do anything without some kind of shtick or backtalk.

By the same token, he should not be cracking jokes at the expense of his underlings. One, because it has the potential to be perceived as a misuse of his power and two, because it once again creates an unprofessional environment.


Has he made similar comments to you in the past?

Honestly, I don’t know of any term for what you’re describing other than “Shortening your work history.”

In my case, this situation is called “being married”.

(And if my wife ever found out I said that, she would probably kill me… :smiley: )

I didn’t really want to get into the details because, as I said, I’ll get over it.

But I do feel justified in guarding against a “double standard” (the best words I can think of to describe what’s happening). But, you see, alice-in-w’land, I can’t say for sure whether he’s said anything like this to me in the past because, well, I’d have just brushed it off. I don’t think I’ll be able to do that anymore, and be able to keep my self-respect. This isn’t going to jeopardize my job - there are plenty of options if I can’t get along with this guy.

I could mention that I have reason to believe that he has had mental health problems in the past, so that he might be, literally, somewhat humor impared.

Sounds like something the Germans would have a word for.

Well, one of my undergrad majors was psychology and I don’t recall any psych terms for the situations, FWIW.

I seem to recall a symptom of “neurotic” being a need for unreasonably high revenge for offense—I am not phrasing that right, but I can’t find the words. Think George Costanza from Seinfeld, for example, when the recovering alcoholic, played by James Spader (IIRC), made a remark about not wanting George’s head to stretch out a sweater’s neck hole. George held a grudge for years and expected an apology for that tiny event when the alcoholic was going through the steps of recovery. I’ve googled to verify this memory of the symptom, and all I can come up with is that neurosis seems to be a generalized term for psychological “disorders” that are not significant enough to take a person outside the boundries of generally acceptable behavior. For example, “it has been retained in view of its wide use. Neurotic disorders are mental disorders without any demonstrable organic basis in which the patient may have considerable insight and has unimpaired reality testing, in that he usually does not confuse his morbid subjective experiences and fantasies with external reality. Behavior may be greatly affected although usually remaining within socially acceptable limits, but personality is not disorganized.

If my recall is correct, and if you are portraying the situation accurately, then perhaps one could call the boss neurotic for being offended at what was, in fact, not an actual insult. Of course, one might, if one were so inclined, suppose that your not brushing his offense off is also a sign of neurosis…maybe?

But what you are looking for is the term to describe a situation where if A can’t use joking “insults” against B, then B should not be allowed to use them against A, right? If so, then I am stumped (or is it “stumpped”?). Which really is no help at all. Sorry.

When my son and his friends get together they rag on each other to the point that it’s nauseating. The problem is, that when he and I spent a couple of weeks together on vacation, he did the same thing to me, and when I said something he got very angry. He said exactly what you did: it woudn’t bother me, so why is it bothering you? It bothered me plenty. I’m from another generation (is your boss older?) and I think he should realize I’m not used to every move of mine provoking a sarcastic remark, even if it is funny most of the time. I actually didn’t say anything for several days, then got sick of it. I’m older now and maybe I’m not as quick as I once was, or as clever as young people seem to be these days. And maybe I don’t like it being pointed out to me. And maybe your boss doesn’t like some young guy pointing out any failings of his to others or making him look bad. I know that younger people these days seem to think that this is all very funny, based on the type of humor I see in movie previews and on TV sitcoms that are successful and I think are a complete waste of time, stupid and asinine (e.g. Ashton Kucher type humor). But then, every generation has this problem. That’s just the way it is. But, I don’t have to like it and I feel completely justified in asking him to stop it. I also had the same reaction and told my son I was going to start pointing out every misstep on his part but that was juvenile and only ended up really hurting his feelings.

I think it has to do with being sensitive to other people’s generational context; what is funny now wasn’t funny when they were growing up. It was called being rude, insensitive, and disrespectful. Things change.

My dad would change the rules constantly like this: teasing that was perfectly acceptable one day would be Insubordination the next day. Drove me and my brother batshit.

This almost certainly has to do with how you were brought up, but I don’t think it’s a generational thing. My inlaws (and you can’t possibly be much older than them) snipe at each other sarcastically all the time. It doesn’t bother them and it’s just the way they communicate, just like your son and his friends. I know a few older people who are the same way.

To those of us who use TLA’s it’s known as a CLM

Never did figure Dr. Quest as having much of a sense of humor.


It’s not a medical definition, but it does seem to partially fit your description. “tit for tat”?

What msmith537 said. It’s difficult to effectively manage people if they’re mocking or backtalking you directly to your face. It is a fine and shifting line in some cases as to the difference between kidding and rudeness, and in the end it’s usually the boss who usually gets to decide where that line is.

Taking that work dynamic and the rationale behind it, and trying to apply it manners wise to the rest of your social interactions and relationships is a pointless exercise.

The bottom line is simply try to be polite. Don’t whip out your verbal dick and wave it around unless you’re fairly confident of the context being accepting of that behavior.