The very Aussie act that could negatively affect your work

Aussies are known around the world for their banter, but could it be hurting you at work?

A composite image of two colleagues laughing with each other at work and a group of people standing at a busy set of lights.
Having a bit of banter in the workplace could cost you if you step over the line. (Source: AAP)

Aussies love a good bit of banter, but not everyone may be receptive to your witty or sarcastic comments and it could cost you at work.

Banter is only effective when used within the proper context – particularly when it comes to banter in the workplace, according to a Preply study of more than 1,500 Aussies.

Being in an office environment could include banter, but it had to remain appropriate and professional, the research found.

Why banter in the workplace is good

Many Aussies said they enjoyed workplace banter because it could lead to closer friendships with colleagues.

Of the Australians surveyed in the Preply study, 52 per cent thought banter at work was acceptable as long as it remained light-hearted and playful.

More than a third (36 per cent) of people surveyed felt banter could create better relationships at work, allowing people to connect and make friends during the working day – as long as it didn’t get in the way of productivity.

Why banter in the workplace is bad

The negative implications of ‘banter’ can be significant, in extreme cases even leading to individuals reporting it adversely affected their confidence and mental health.

Of those surveyed, 44 per cent felt that being offensive and disrespectful towards a colleague was unacceptable, highlighting that it could often go too far.

And 15 per cent of people thought banter at work ran the risk of causing tension between employees, which could lead to two people finding it awkward to work together.

Similarly, a survey from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment revealed a remarkable 97 per cent said they had felt uncomfortable with “banter” at some point. Two-thirds said they contributed less in meetings because of banter, and a third found it so unsettling it made them look for another job.

What is considered bad banter?

The research found many Aussies agreed there were certain things that were not acceptable to joke about, including:

  • Choice of partner (59 per cent)

  • Political views (46 per cent)

  • Bad hairstyle (29 per cent)

  • Fashion sense (27 per cent)

  • Habits or hobbies (15 per cent)

“Humour in the workplace is essential — it can help boost morale and reduce stress. However, employees should be wary of making jokes that stray into offensive territory,” Preply culture director Amy Pritchett said.

“People should think about how that joke would sound if said back to them and whether they would feel uncomfortable trying to justify the comments if questioned about them.”

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