‘Taking the Piss ’ can P*&$ all over your positive initiatives. Professional Journey Steps: step #13

‘Taking the Piss ’ can P*&$ all over your positive initiatives. Professional Journey Steps: step #13

Taking the piss

In such a sport minded and successful sporting nation I’ve adopted as home, Australia, I often get asked, ‘ in my opinion, what is the national sport of Australia?’ My response is not the expected, AFL (Aussie Rules Football) or rugby or cricket… it is, ‘the nationalsport of Australia is take the piss.’ It is so prevalent and widely accepted as part of the culture.

Something cultural and seemingly innocuous can be a critical stake to the heart of your initiatives. I’ve been fortunate to live in Perth, Australia for the past 14 years and love it here, every thing about the experience of my now permanent home. When I arrived I realised immediately some of the core characteristics of being Australian – ‘being Aussie as’. Two characteristics in particular are prevalent; a justified pride in sports and the Aussie larrikin, ‘take the piss out of someone’ attitude and culture.

What Does That Even Mean?

Now for those of you out there not familiar with this term – a brief definition. It is actually a British term which, has become endeared and ingrained into Australian culture – it simply means to mock, tease or scoff someone usually sarcastically and all in the name of good fun. The reason it is not taken offensively – most of the time – is because of another wonderfully endearing Australian trait, self-deprecation. So, the person ‘taking the piss’ usually turns it around, ‘can take it as well as give it’ to soften the atmosphere and maintain the humorous intent.

Ok to the point at hand… hopefully a helpful guidance to be aware of how otherwise culturally acceptable practices in a professional environment, regardless of which country or culture you reside, may back fire or at least stymie productivity and contribution.

Timing Depends on the Situation

In this current era we all face the professional situation where we MUST get the most from all our resources. One critical element of this is creating an environment where our people (ALL our people) can feel comfortable putting forth ideas, even half-baked ones, taking risks and generally participating and contributing to the overall universal effort. Since we never know from where or whom the next best idea or solution will come then we want to open up the possibility to one and all.

As Leaders in striving to create just such an environment, take a moment to be self and group aware of any ‘culturally accepted’ behaviour, which may not be conducive to our objectives in a professional setting. Now this is NOT to say be a prude, hell I lovetaking the piss as much as anyone. In fact I have become quite adept at it and love the associated banter with my friends. Just be careful allowing its use (or in other countries, something like it) in professional situations doesn’t alienate and isolate some of your people. It’s all good fun at the pub but in a meeting, problem solving session or general professional environment it can be construed by some to be too personal and inappropriate. The result is they’ll most likely respond one of two ways, both of which are non-productive; stay quiet and not participate or lash out.

The MSB Max helpful tip for this edition of our Professional Journey Steps is:

Be aware of the personalities and tolerances within your groups, internally and externally. Don’t kill the fun but temper it with respect and you’ll strike a good balance. This’ll vary from group to group and situation to situation but you’ll get a handle on it if you are looking.

If we can help, we have expertise, programs and care to guide your development. We’re here to help, it’s what we do well and why we exist.

So take this guidance, as you will. Meanwhile at the direction of my mates I’m off to drink a cup of cement because I obviously need to harden up since I’m being a ‘big girl’s blouse’ apparently. Or I could just be taking the piss?

Enjoy your journey

Michael