Advice column: I resent being the butt of the department joker's humour. What should I do?

Dear Ash,

I have been having issues with a colleague making me the focus of his jokes in an attempt to impress the boss. My colleague is known as the joker in the department, but he seems increasingly to use any information gained about me in particular in order to humour the senior managers. Other colleagues do not seem too bothered by any jibes directed at them, but I am concerned that my colleague is tarnishing my credibility in front of the managers and possibly affecting my chances of promotion.

Recently he mentioned an incident when some colleagues and I went for some after-work drinks and he exaggerated how drunk I had been and how I had fallen over and caused a scene. Although I had consumed some alcohol I had not been as inebriated as he claimed, but the managers were too busy laughing for me to respond. I do not want to seem to be overly sensitive about such issues but I do not want to continue be the butt of all his jokes. 

Ash replies:

There is normally always one joker in the department who takes it upon themselves to entertain the department or senior managers. This however should not always be taken personally, as very often the focus of such banter will shift from one individual to the next depending on the circumstances. Your other colleagues seem to have accepted the humour, although may privately also be seething about your colleague’s behaviour.

The best way of coping with such behaviour is not to take it personally and to perhaps consider retaliating at some point. You will probably find that your colleague may be good at dishing out such anecdotes but may not be as gracious in being the target of such humour himself. It may therefore be worthwhile giving your colleague a taste of his own medicine the next time he decides to make you the target of his banter.

Although your colleague may be good at telling jokes, this does not necessarily mean that he will be helping to promote his position in the department. If anything his behaviour may affect his credibility in the department and the managers may not seriously consider him when assessing his future promotion prospects. Your colleague may be good at telling jokes, but not necessarily at focusing on his work; accordingly in the long run, the joke may be on your colleague!


Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Registrar’s Department. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, Manager in the Registrar’s Department on 0131 476 8105/8200, or

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