This is the first peice of advice I give anyone starting work for the very first time, be it straight out of school, university or after a break from education. Learn how to canter. learn how to jape, and get practicing your insults.
To massively over-generalise, men know how to call each other mean names, and not mean it. Women know how to say nice things, and not mean it. No matter how much it's discouraged and frowned upon by those seeking social justice it's a current reality, and more so in non-professional roles. I have had the benefit (I think) of working now for 20 years, from a warehouse picker / packer to a professional graphic designer. I worked with and experienced many fields of work in customer services, IT, retail and service, and one thing has always remained consistent among male-to-male interaction. Making fun of each other to help pass the time and make your work-life more enjoyable.
Now don't get me wrong. Don't be a bully. If your insults are landing and your not getting any back, or the receiver is not smiling, then stop immediately, apologise and reassess. You don't want to be an asshole. Also, don't do it right off the bat. Calling your boss, for instance a raging twatwizard on your first day might not be making the best impression. Feel it out. See how other workers interact, and you'll get an idea of what you can say and how far you can push it.
I think this is actually quite an essential life skill. learning how to give and how to take insults for amusement is great for creativity, language, interpersonal relations and negotiation. Knowing you can connect with another male, by calling them a baboon-faced turd-burglar is a gratifying and rewarding experience, especially when the insult is returned in a quality-assured and creative manner. Want to get personal? Test the water a little - and check your companies policy on abuse - you do not want to get fired because someone overheard you calling your gay colleague a raging homo - despite his amusement and very likely witty and cutting response.
It's the shield for tedium. We're slaves to a system we all need to work in, in order to make gains in our lives. Spending 40-60 hours a week in the company of people other than your friends and family can be a laborious experience, so filling it out with humour (outside of actually doing work) is a great way to maintain your spirits.
Some people simply do not understand the male need for mutual abuse, nor see any value in it - and always be mindful of this. It's an ancient and sacred tradition for males worldwide, heralding from our hunting days to pass the time. I have seen so many misunderstandings from people outside of the battle being the cause of another's disciplinary action or dismissal.
To those who do not understand I'll say this. Be sure someone is actually being hurt, before reporting anything. If you are not in the conversation but within earshot, and it's upsetting you in any way, let the rutting parties know how you feel and they should do it more discreetly. After these steps are taken can you really take it up to those who can dish out the punishment. Inconsiderate people should get what they deserve. You also do not need to understand, or partake. If you can ignore it, make fun of the chimp-like behaviour then by all means do.
The great news is, I am also seeing this more and more among my female colleagues - engaging in smutty witticisms and vulgarity almost as much as my male colleagues, and it's hilarious. Just be aware that this is a new trend, and not (as far as I have seen) in every workplace. Know that, not every insult is a hate crime. Not every attack on the way you look, is a tactic to make you feel bad. Judge it, question it, and adapt to the workplace banter rules as best you can, and you'll find that getting out of bed in the morning is just that little bit more bearable.
Published by Amuro Rey