Lost in Translation? – Irony, Sarcasm and Humor

With the globalization and internationalization of company activities, it has also become important to know the attitudes, habits, and customs of different countries, to avoid gaffes, embarrassing situations or to jeopardize people’s susceptibility.

But before understanding what happens elsewhere, we are sure to have grasped some differences in attitude that we instead use, sometimes, with superficiality in our own country or work environment? For example, irony, humor, and sarcasm are often used as synonyms, but they do not represent the same thing at all. Instead, it is different ways to capture paradoxical and contradictory aspects of reality and to communicate them in interpersonal relationships.

Irony is a way of expressing emotions that are in part aggressive and conflictual, “dilating” them in the hilarity, often shared, thus deploying their destructive charge. Compared to sarcasm, irony is less aggressive. The sarcasm has the connotation of an attack directed against another person preserving all the aggressive charge that this entails. On the other hand, irony expresses a comic aspect of the other and of reality in a more subtle and indirect way and, therefore, more easily shared by those who receive it.

However, it is with humor that one has the possibility to place an optimal distance from aggressive emotionality by soliciting a thought, a shared reflection on the contradictions that are being grasped.

With irony one laughs “of the other”, with the humor one laughs “with the other”.

Only if we can carefully use these behaviors in an environment more familiar to us, we can better understand the weight that differences in cultures can have in different environments.

Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
After classical studies and the Bachelor Degree in Law, I have had experience of teaching law and economics in high school, completed the legal and notarial practice, admitted to the lawyer bar since 1975, I worked as a civil lawyer for about 4 years. In 1970 I joined General Motors Acceptance Corporation, Italy, the financing company of General Motors, where I made different kinds of experience serving in leadership roles and as a CEO as well as a board member (credit collection, district manager, retail contract acquisition, wholesale and retail credit risk manager, recruitment and training of Human Resources, analysis and management of corporate law issues, new branch development, introduction of flexibility tools and outsourcing, partnership projects - SAAB, Subaru - Quality Council, Units relations, branch closures, analysis and restructuring of organizational processes, compliance, change management. In December 2004 I retired maintaining the role of an external member of the Board and head of the Vigilance Committee up to April 2008. I collaborated with the magazine "Autoperator" on financial services matters, to Corriere della Sera & Sole 24Ore on any labor matters.
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