Sarcasm: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

How does sarcasm affect your relationships?

The interesting thing about coincidences is that there are rarely any. Usually, it’s the universe knocking. Most often we ignore those knocks, and the doors to personal growth or opportunity never open, but as luck would have it, I was trapped on a plane where it’s a bit difficult to escape incessant rapping. The result is this white paper on sarcasm. Here’s the question: Is it good or bad? Or is it something that we just don’t think enough about? We take the slings and arrows of sarcasm with a pinch of salt If we can.

The First Knock

Let’s talk about those knocks. The first thwacks that I conveniently ignored happened about three weeks ago when I was in a meeting listening to two colleagues banter. They started off in the light-hearted spirit of collegial bantering, but within minutes “Something Ugly” entered the room. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but I knew, as did others in the room, that the spirit of the conversation had shifted; and not in a good way. It seemed that one person was being quite a bit more mean-spirited than the other.

The gentle ribbing that had at first seemed OK, turned into “Something Ugly”, directed at and wounding the other person. I could see it in the Wounded One’s eyes, in their body language. The Wounded One took the words in and tried to stick up for himself, saying he was offended. I commend him for his courage. Most people in the same situation normally don’t. Responding to sarcasm leaves you vulnerable to further attack. Sarcastic Person responded, “I was just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?” Wounded One grimaced. Sarcastic Person smiled. The meeting continued. The tension was still in the air. It seeped into the ensuing conversations like a cold mist, chilling the air. We all felt it. I was very happy to leave the room. Replaying the words, I surmised that the person was cuttingly sarcastic.

When I started researching this white paper, the first thing I did was find the definition.

The root of sarcasm isn’t pretty. It stems from the Greek word “sarkasmos”, meaning “to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer.” And Webster’s dictionary defines sarcasm as a sharp utterance designed to cut or give pain. And that sarcasm is a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual. Ouch! Definitely something ugly!

For this white paper, I circled back to one of the guys who were in that meeting. He stated: “That guy is just sarcastic when he gets frustrated. You just have to deal with it. I don’t invite him to all my meetings because I know that some people have a hard time with his sarcasm, but you have to admit, he had some great thoughts. The bottom line: The message was right.”

My response: “So if you know he is sarcastic, have you discussed it?”

He looked at me and said, “Not really. Here’s the thing, I’ve worked with him for years and he does have a good heart. I guess he just finds that sarcasm is preferable to telling people outright what he thinks of their stupid moves, poor performance, or bad decisions. In his opinion, the people in that room were screwing up, not for the first time, and not for the last. Though I’ll admit it was very unpleasant and I should have stepped in when it started to get ugly. I’ll bring it up with him”.

“Some boundaries would be good and I’ll let the poor target know he should work on getting closer to Mr. Sarcastic so he won’t be so upset next time. I don’t mind the sarcasm because I trust him to set us straight. We need that feedback when we are not getting things done. I look at it as a wake-up call rather than a slap in the face. Do you think it would have been better for him to be direct and just bluntly give his scathing opinion? Which is more damaging at work “direct and brutal or sarcastic like he was?”

“Good question! That’s what I’m trying to figure out” I smiled. So my quest began with these questions: Is sarcasm ever OK? Where’s the line?

The first lesson in viewing sarcasm: Look at the person’s intention.

Ask yourself: Are they veiling a tough message in sarcastic humor or are they being purposefully malicious or hurtful? Do they want to make things better by not being blunt or are they purposefully out to hurt, embarrass, or damage the Wounded One without allowing for a comeback? In addition, it seemed that if trust was high, the bite of sarcasm doesn’t wound nearly as much. Trust and good intention working together (or lack thereof) is a huge component of how sarcasm is taken in.

The Second Knock

The next knock happened with a family member. Different players, different stage, same result. Light bantering around the table somehow turned ugly. The line had been crossed. When I responded that I didn’t appreciate the sarcasm, the Sarcastic One retorted, “I was just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?” and then another blow, “Well, aren’t we just a ray of super sensitive sunshine?” they laughed. The Sarcastic One looked around the table for support but our guests were clearly uncomfortable.

To ease the tension, Wounded One (me) grimaced. The Sarcastic Person smiled. The meal continued. The tension was still in the air and conversations were clipped. That same cold mist chilled the air. Again, we were all happy to escape. Afterward, my guest from London commented, “Darling, when we take the mickey out of someone, we expect them to come back at us blow for blow. We own up to it. This American ‘sarcasm thing’ doesn’t allow for that, does it? Wit, and particularly the dry, ironic, taking-the-piss sort of wit, seems to be completely beyond them here. Tell you what, I think what happened was uncivil and mean. You should put your foot down.”

I agreed but never had the uncomfortable conversation with that family member about boundaries and monitoring their sarcasm until I wrote this paper. Here’s what I found out: They didn’t want to confront me directly about something I was doing that was irritating them.

They were shielding their annoyance with sarcasm.

They were sorry that it went too far and that it spoiled our dinner party. Promises were made to keep sarcasm “in-house”. Actually, they said: “Oh, a sarcasm detector. That’s a really useful invention! We have to get one!” We both laughed.

A close-knit family can do gentle ribbing, and get away with it. If it works for them, usually it’s because there’s a lot of love there. People won’t take it too seriously because they know the person’s intention is not to cut. But to work, crossing over that ugly hurtful line has to be avoided. Again, what is the intention?

An important lesson I learned was that people have to monitor sarcasm. If everyone is open to calling a timeout when things start down the wrong path “OK, that’s it!” or setting boundaries like keeping it “in-house”, some gentle ribbing might be a way to tell people what’s irritating without being brutal about annoying habits.

Another point inappropriate monitoring is that you can’t keep targeting the same person. Then sarcasm looks a lot like bullying. Another way it looks like bullying is if there is a power gap between the people. If the Wounded One can’t push back (i.e. to a parent, boss, or community leader), the sarcasm isn’t appropriate. So, if you dish it out, you better be prepared to get it dished right back.

Let’s look at some examples of what might work:

To get family members to do chores:

  • Make yourself at home! Clean the kitchen. Or your room. Or any other chore that moves you!
  • Therapy is expensive, popping bubble wrap is cheap! Washing those dishes you left in the sink works too! You’ll choose the right one.
  • Practice random acts of intelligence & senseless acts of self-control. Control your messy room before it gets the better of you!
  • Here, let me show you how the butler used to do it.

To explain why you can’t give kids the money they want:

  • I work 40 hours a week to be this poor.
  • Whisper my favorite words: “I’ll buy it for myself with my allowance.”
  • This is a mean and damned cruel world & I want my millions, my nappy & my medication right now!

The Third Knock

The third time the universe knocked was with my business partner. He tends to be sarcastic when he gets frustrated. Ok, I’ll admit that I have been known to defend myself with further sarcasm.  I’m not proud of it, but it usually feels so right at that moment! In fact, one day, when I suggested we cut out the sarcasm, he quipped, “It’s nice when someone can respond to your sarcasm with sarcasm, instead of simply being defensive or getting offended.”

Okay, let’s analyze that! Yes, it was a little funny so I smiled and let it slide. It gnawed at me because it didn’t address the real issue. Also, it was doubly annoying because I couldn’t immediately think of a snappy comeback! Have you ever experienced that frustration?

A couple of hours later, I told him how the sarcasm was affecting our relationship. My words to him were from my heart. My relationship with him is important to me, I know what sarcasm can do over time. I had a long-term relationship with a sarcastic partner. And I didn’t want another. I approached it head-on, “Small relentless barbs, over time, tend to wear thin. Each sarcastic comment gnaws away the fabric of safety that is vital in any healthy relationship, whether in business or at home.”

His response: “But that’s who I am. I’m a smart Alec. You know that! It’s how my family communicates. Besides, sometimes you laugh and think it’s funny.”

He was right, he is a smart Alec and a funny guy with a great big kind heart. Praying that I wouldn’t get struck by lightning, aiming for that heart I quipped, “And how’s that working out for you? Because on this side, it isn’t helping all the time, sometimes it’s hurting. I can’t imagine that it served you well your whole life with everyone.” The effect couldn’t have been more profound than if I’d slapped him.  I continued, “Isn’t it better to stop using sarcasm, rather than escalate it by trying to one-up each other?”

“Like you just did? Point taken,” he smiled. “You know what, I am not going to suddenly stop using sarcasm, but maybe I have to look at WHEN I use it, how often, and with whom. I hope you know I didn’t mean to be unkind at all! You know that’s not who I am.  And we always say, “Who you are today doesn’t have to be who you are tomorrow.”

I happen to like sarcasm sometimes. It’s a way to playfully let you know when you are out of line when I don’t want to hurt you by saying a direct message. I don’t do it to wound you. I do it to NOT wound you, or anyone else for that matter. I’ve found that’s it’s sometimes a highly effective way to deliver a brutal message without stabbing a person directly in the heart. I’ve used it at work with my teams for years, but I never stab people and I have a general rule for every sarcastic comment directed at someone I use a few more on myself so they know I will use it on myself too.  Plus, you have to do it with a good and kind heart.”

I responded, “Yep, but I trust you and know you aren’t intentionally trying to hurt me.”

Bravo! It was a great conversation!

So there was another lesson: Intent and judgment and knowing how the other person will take your sarcasm is important AND doing it with a good heart. Also, if people push back you have to be open and willing to apologize for using sarcasm.

The Fourth Knock

And finally, the universe knocked me squarely on my forehead a fourth time. Funnel clouds swept over Charlotte International, shutting the airport down.  If you know anything about travel, the airlines don’t cancel in a hurry. Passengers were stuck in New York City’s LaGuardia Airport for hours.  All flights were canceled close to midnight.

The next morning, I boarded my rebooked flight from LaGuardia to Charlotte, NC. Sarcastic comments from exhausted, pissed-off flyers flew like daggers at the crew. Hello! We were in New York City! No surprise here! Tight-lipped, the flight attendant smiled and offered us a pre-takeoff drink. The gentleman next to me started a conversation about the delays.

He commented that a couple of people around us were being overly sarcastic about their experiences.

Adding that he was very thankful to be heading south to more a more hospitable and considerate part of the country where people, in his view, were a lot nicer and more empathetic. Glad to be leaving NYC, he dubbed it the “Sarcastic City”.

I couldn’t let that stand! “Are you kidding me? I lived in Philadelphia for 15 years. Philly takes the crown for sarcasm, hands down!”  We joked about the ‘atte-tood’ in both cities and he asked what I did. “Behavior modification” popped right out of my lips. He joked, “You should have stayed in Philly. You could have dedicated your life to modifying the sarcasm and ‘atte-toods’ there and probably gotten nowhere.”

He asked me my views on sarcasm. I acknowledged that I had been thinking about it lately saying, “I think it’s dangerous. It can be really mean-spirited. I think it can be somewhat of a narcissistic trait if the person slinging the sarcasm lacks empathy and good kind judgment. If a person habitually uses it to wound another, it is cruel and malicious a bit of bullying.

The worst thing, the Sarcastic One often thinks they can say any cruel thing they want to the Wounded One without impunity.

Just because barbs are cloaked as just fun aka “a sarcastic joke”, doesn’t make it right. I quoted a dear, kind soul: My friend, Fran Landolf says, “It’s rarely funny, and almost always meant to hurt.” I told this gentleman that my favorite saying on the topic was: “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit!” and finished with: “If there’s anything more bully-like and relationship destroying than sarcasm, I’d yet to see it.”

“Strong opinions! I guess you really don’t like it!” he laughed and asked, “Are there any studies on it?”

“I haven’t read one! Let’s see what’s on the internet.” We then spent the next 30 minutes searching for information. To be quite frank, it was eye-opening. What was out there was conflicting, chilling, and sparse.

As we read articles and searched for studies, my new friend mentioned that his father, a native New Yorker in his 70’s, was the most sarcastic man he knew. Candidly, he said that his wife hated sarcasm and didn’t like her father-in-law because of it. She especially didn’t like what Granddad’s words did to her children. She avoided him, and so did the kids. Last night because of his flight delay, he went to his dad’s home, only to be met with sarcastic comments, one after another. “I hear my grandkids look like you.” and “Your flight delayed? Unlucky you, lucky me! I was wondering if you lost my number. I know I’m not on your better half’s speed dial.” If this was a Wayne’s World pantomime it would end with, “Funny, right, NOT!”

I chuckled then asked, “Have you told your dad the real reason the family was distant; because of sarcasm?” He was surprised at the question. “I thought about it many times, but just didn’t.” If you’ve ever traveled, you’ll smile at this: You can be a lot blunter and forthcoming talking to a stranger you’ll probably never see again. In that light, you can ask some bold and provocative questions. “Do you think that was entirely fair to everyone? Your relationship with your dad has clearly suffered. His daughter-in-law barely knows him, nor he her. The special bond that your kids could have had with their grandfather isn’t there. Your dad might be cloaking his hurt, his anger at being left out, behind his sarcasm, don’t you think?”

“But he might just be being unthinkingly sarcastic, too! Everybody in the neighborhood is sarcastic! But it seems to be much more caustic than I remember, plus it’s the whole city!” he laughed.

“Look,” I said, “You’re correct! Here’s a 2008 study from Dr. Kreuz at the University of Memphis and researchers at the State University of New York at Oswego that found that people in New York believe that humor is an essential element in sarcasm. Looks like they think it’s part of their culture and it’s expected. But people in Tennessee think that sarcasm is negative. They don’t think it has a place in their culture.”

“Interesting! I would have thought just the opposite,” he quipped.

I had to chuckle, “You’re right. nonetheless t you owe it to your father to tell him. You are all adults now. Do you love him, despite the sarcasm? You need to talk to him.”

He nodded. I was blunt, “Then have the tough conversation. Don’t wait until all you have is regret for what could have been. Even if he doesn’t change, you’ll know you tried, and he’ll know you love him.”

So I thought that was my work done, but no! He looked me square in the eye and said, “You showed me your paper on Behavior Modification, and I saw your books. I’ll talk to my dad, but it would be best to prep him for a discussion like this. He’s a reader, it would really help to give him a thoughtful paper on this touchy subject first. How about you write it and I promise to have that conversation?” He was serious! He continued on about how great this would be, and how easy it would be for me to write, how it could help. Knock, knock, knock! I laughed and said, “Deal! But I think the person who it’s going to help the most is me!”

Writing this paper has been a blessing I didn’t expect. I’ve had the opportunity to think deeply about this topic. I’ve begun to have great talks about sarcasm; the ways it became more prevalent in certain areas, how long it’s been around, and what’s changed. Most important, the richest discussions are centering around what we want communication to be. Am I getting push-back? Oh, yeah! But then when people think about it, they generally agree that they need to rethink what is ok with sarcasm and when it crosses the line. In these discussions, we set some boundaries and expectations. We discussed sarcasm. Anything else was tabled. We really wanted to get at the heart of sarcasm.

So I was wrong: There seems to be a Place for Sarcasm

As I began more in-depth research, the first thing I found out: I was wrong. I started off thinking that there was never a place where sarcasm could exist. I thought all sarcasm was bad since I’d borne the brunt of it. Jaded from prior experiences labeled ‘teasing’ and ‘just a joke’, I railed against anything that smacked of sarcasm. I was vehement that we should try to completely eradicate it, but, thinking that sarcasm would die anytime soon is very Polly-Anna-ish. For goodness sake, Aristotle used it!  I had to get real. If getting rid of sarcasm altogether isn’t possible, what’s the next best thing? Is there a place for sarcasm as some of the research suggest?

In fact, on August 24, 2015, the Wall Street Journal posed this question and answer: “Does sarcasm have a place in polite conversation? Experts say yes, but it depends on who is on the receiving end. While sarcasm can baffle or even offend people when it is expressed between friends or people who know each other well, it can be good for everyone involved. How so? Some of the research said there was a fine line between hurtful sarcasm and sarcastic humor.

Is Sarcasm Ever OK? Where’s the line?

But where exactly was that line? Nobody seemed to define it! As Aristotle pointed out, irony frequently ‘implies contempt’ for its target and therefore it must be used carefully. In addition, he observed that irony ‘befits a gentleman,’ but he also warns that, to be most effective, ‘the jests of the ironical man should be at his own expense,’ not at the expense of others. And I so, I was able to draw my first line. Self-deprecating sarcasm is okay! Tear your own flesh, but don’t rip mine. That works for me!

The first line is Direct sarcasm at yourself, never at others.

In practice, these sarcastic comments would NOT be okay:

“Oh yeah, I forgot. You’re perfect.” Or

“Not the brightest crayon in the box now, are we?”

But twist these to self-deprecation and we are good.

“Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m perfect.”

“Not the brightest crayon in the box now, am I?”

And some that might make this line clearer:

“Well, this day was a total waste of me putting on makeup.”

“Don’t bother me. I’m living happily ever after.”

“Do I look like a frigging people person?”

“I started out with nothing & still have most of it left.”

“I wish I’d listen to myself: See no evil, hear no evil and date no evil.”

“Here’s my motto: Better living through denial.”

“Stress is when I wake up screaming & realize I haven’t fallen asleep yet.”

“Here I am! Now, what are your other two wishes?”

Another lesson: Direct sarcasm at objects (inanimate or well-known groups), never at individual people, families, or other close-knit groups that people really care about.

Not a great idea to target teams at work, this will cause conflict. A good rule: The smaller the group, generally the more hurtful you might be.

“Can I trade this job for what’s behind door #2?” (If you substitute ‘team’ for ‘job’, it could be offensive!)

“This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.” (If you substitute ‘your project’ with ‘office’, it could be offensive!)

Instead of saying shut up or get out of my space:

  • “Do they ever be quiet when communication devices are operational on your planet?” (If you substitute ‘your project’ with ‘office’, it could be offensive!)
  • “Back off! You’re standing in my aura.” (If you substitute ‘your project’ with ‘office’, it could be offensive!)
  • Just smile and say “Yes, Mistress, I will not discuss this again.” (If you substitute ‘your project’ with ‘office’, it could be offensive!)

Instead of a direct “I’m sorry” you can be sarcastically humorous:

  • Yesterday, I can’t remember if I was the good twin or the evil one. OR
  • Macho Law forbids me from admitting I’m wrong. OR
  • Okay, okay, I take it back! Un-Screw You!
  • I plead contemporary insanity.
  • Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.

To make light with a partner:

  • I’m not tense, just terribly, terribly alert.
  • One of us is thinking about sex. OK, it’s me.
  • I wish for a world of peace, harmony, & nakedness.

Remember: Sarcasm Can Inflict Pain

In some of the research we read, sarcasm was compared to a wasp’s sting, causing immediate pain and inflammation. Yes, I agreed, sarcasm stung and it had barbs, too! Here’s the problem: No one likes to get stung. When people know that someone will hurt them with their words, they are naturally more protective and less open. Who would blame a person for not wanting to get hurt? The same way we avoid wasps, mosquitos, and bees, we avoid hurtful people. Sarcasm poses serious risks to relationships, it wounds and tears at the fabric of connectedness between people, affecting trust and eroding relationships.

Using sarcasm almost always makes a bad situation worse. How is hurtful verbal one-upmanship helpful when tension is rising? When gently ribbing turns to “Something Ugly” real damage is done. The problem with sarcasm is that when people defend themselves, they often do so using unveiled, un-sarcastic, un-funny words. Words said in defense cut to the heart and wound in return. These words can never have the excuse: “I was just kidding.”

The truth is that sarcasm can damage in ways that are often irreparable.

What starts out as “fun” turns ugly. It’s a very slippery slope. Sound like the foundation of any great relationship to you? Need more analysis? In our research, we came across an interesting factoid: There is no word for a sarcastic person. If you write satire, you’re a satirist; comedy, a comedian; humor, a humorist. But nowhere did we find a word for someone who employs sarcasm. Perhaps the most common words are the jerk, a**hole, etc. None are flattering or respectful.

In the worst case scenario, one person is ‘better’ at doling out sarcasm than the other. That’s where I’ve found myself lacking on several occasions in life. When I was sixteen, I was the target of a great “sarcastist” (our new word for a sarcastic person). Her tongue was vicious. Her barbs pithy and quick. When I think of how she wounded, I think of a combatant with a set of sharp long knives. She stepped skillfully into my mental safe house, cleverly slashed, and stepped back, waiting for my comeback. I am not good at snappy, nasty comebacks just awful at verbal one-upmanship.

She parried any attempt I made to defend myself with another sarcastic comment. Her sarcasm was intended to wound. It did. It humiliated me. Berated me. Embarrassed me. Belittled me. I cannot tell you how many times I thought of comebacks before my eyes closed at last light. But, the next day, she assaulted me a whole new barrage of fresh sarcasm. I never got the opportunity to use the lines I thought of the prior night. In thinking about it, it was bullying. Did it make me tough-minded? You bet it did! That was the only good thing about it.

Who does sarcasm hurt most?

The worst thing about my classmate’s sarcasm, however, wasn’t the effect it had on me. People shied away from her. They still do. Think about the nature of sarcasm. People using it want to wound. They get their fun at the expense of others. Having a predominantly sarcastic nature eroded that girl. It turned her into a bitter, unhappy woman. It filled her with negativity, or sarcasm was the behavior displaying to the world who she was inside. I’ve kept track of her and it isn’t pretty.

Three failed marriages, alcoholism, poor health and a life wasted away with few friends. While I’ve wondered if she was lashing out in retaliation for how she was getting hurt. Was she protecting herself? Retaliation is a reason people resort to hurtful words. “You might hurt me, so I’ll hurt you first.” Much like how bullies turn to bullying because they were bullied, perhaps sarcastic people turned to sarcasm because they were wounded by words. You had to learn it somewhere!

The costs of sarcasm?

In my research, most people think that sarcastic remarks usually seem like no big deal to the person who makes them. People assume the damage is most severe to the recipient, the Wounded One. Sure that’s the case in the short term, but I think that more long-term damage is done to the one doing the wounding. An interesting point in the prolonged use of sarcasm: One where the Sarcastist insists on dredging up every single argument, misstep, or flaw. In instances where this occurs, whether in a business relationship, marriage, or in a friendship; that Sarcastist’s words can drip with sarcasm in a manner that forces the Wounded One to relive the past again and again. No one is served by these types of assaults.

Over time, both parties lose. The Wounded One no longer trusts that person to keep them emotionally safe enough to have even the most mundane of conversations, fearing any future lashings they might receive.

The Sarcastist will lose because, in losing that person’s trust, they lose the opportunity of continuing a deep trust-filled relationship. The Wounded One will always be guarded. That is the consequence of prolonged sarcastic attacks. No one will argue that the Sarcastist could damage their peers and partners in ways that are often irreparable.

Interestingly enough, many Sarcastists use sarcasm as a way to control conversations. Think about it: If you are potentially going to be wounded, do you open up or become less forthcoming? Do you speak up less or more in a Sarcastist’s company? Do you yield the point, debate the Sarcastist, or just let things slide? In reality, most people prefer not to go head to head with a Sarcastist, and in doing so conversations are less fruitful and enlightening.

I mentioned that I thought sarcasm was a narcissist tendency. Our research bears that out. Sarcasm lacks empathy for the Wounded One and centers on the Sarcastist making their points with very little thought to the impact on others. That is the essence of narcissism.

The questions remain

So what are your thoughts on sarcasm after reading this? Do you think it’s self-serving, hurtful, or will do you damage if you use it? Or is there a middle ground? Where using sarcasm judiciously might save pain if your intentions are pure, your heart open, and trust is not an issue?

My Conclusion

We’re never going to eradicate sarcasm. However, I will be using it a lot less though. I will be calling it out and having discussions whenever I think it might harm a relationship. As I think that’s my duty. I hope this prompts you to do the same.

Here are the lessons I learned:

  • Look at the person’s intention.
  • Monitor sarcasm. Call timeouts when appropriate.
  • Only use it when trust is high, never when people don’t know each other well.
  • A lot of it is intent and judgment and knowing how the other person will take it AND doing it with a good heart.
  • Direct sarcasm at objects (inanimate or well-known groups), never at individual people, families, or other close-knit groups that people really care about. Not a great idea to target teams at work, this will cause conflict. A good rule: The smaller the group, generally the more hurtful you might be.


Hellen Davis Speech


Indaba Global Coaching CEO/Owner

Hellen Davis is an executive officer of Indaba Health and Wellness LLC and is one of the founders of Indaba Global Coaching, LLC., a management consulting, eLearning, and training corporation. Clients include executives and leaders from dozens of Fortune 100 corporations and leadership in the top agencies in the public sector. She is respected for her extensive knowledge of accountability and executing strategic goals, as well as influencing strategies, strategic planning, behavior modification processes, sales and peak performance management expertise, and negotiation tactics. Ms. Davis has written many books, including the bestseller The 21 Laws of Influence. Her favorite is Noble Intent, co-authored by Fran Landolf.

Hellen resides in St. Petersburg, Florida but travels extensively all over the world. Hellen has two wonderful children, Justin and Jazmin, and enjoys spending time with her family. She holds a BS in Computer Science, Masters Designation in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and holds a CLU from American College focused on Estate Taxation and Planning, Corporate Taxation, Financial Analysis & Budgeting, and Accounting Practices in Corporations. While in the insurance and investment industry, Hellen successfully completed several NASD security licenses.

Contact details:

Hellen Davis

CEO, Indaba Global Coaching, LLC

Office:  727-327-8777

Founder DISCflex

Sample DISC Business Behavior Report


  1. Heather on October 8, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you very much for your research, experiences, and thoughts. I’m putting together a presentation for an Autism meeting (mostly Neurotypicals in attendance) that shows how sarcasm is especially difficult for Autists to interpret, as we lack theory of mind. I rely on patterns when someone interacts with me. If they are too unpredictable and use a lot of sarcasm, I disengage from them as I will not be able to follow a conversation with someone who is frequently sarcastic. I am unable to read body language, facial expressions, or tone of voice, so words are all I have for meaning, especially around someone I don’t know well. I take words literally, so sarcasm is exceptionally confusing for me being on the receiving end. I know how to use sarcasm, but I can’t interpret it if someone uses it on me. It’s like being able to speak English, but not being able to read it.

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to include a link to your article and include some of your points in my slide show and be sure to give credit. Thanks again for all your efforts. 🙂

  2. Mike Ortega on July 10, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    @Heather thank you for your comment and sharing your perspective. I am sure this reply is way too late to help you for your presentation you mentioned, but if you have future presentations please feel free to utilize this article as needed.

    Thank you,

  3. Devanshi on September 5, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    wow. just wow. I appreciate all of the hard work you have put into this amazing article!

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