How to deal with off-colour comments and jokes at your holiday gathering (and everywhere else)

The holiday season is just around the corner. Assuming we aren’t sent to our respective corners by another wave of COVID, there will be holiday gatherings and inevitably we will encounter off-colour and outdated jokes and comments that have no place in society.

Whether it’s racist, homophobic, use of the r-word, body-shaming or any other variety of insult, there is no place at work, family gatherings, or anywhere else for comments that put others down or passively-aggressively imply putting them in their place.

Chances are that if you make it clear that you don’t find this type of joke-teller’s sense of humour funny, others may find it easier to speak up and say that they agree with you. Worst case scenario, by voicing your displeasure you will reduce the likelihood of those individuals feeling comfortable enough to make inappropriate remarks or jokes in your presence in the future.

Here are a few hints and responses to let others know that you are not a receptive audience to their outdated slang or attempts at humour:

  • Don’t laugh.
  • Say “I love you, but that type of comment is not okay,” or “I’m not sure why you think I would find that funny,” or “So, what would your [employer, sister, neighbour, etc.] think about you telling that joke?”
  • Say nothing and wait for the speaker to reply next.
  • Ask them to step to the side with you and, when they do, you can explain why what they said was offensive.

Learn more here about jokes that aren’t funny and how to respond: