How To Stop Being Sarcastic (So You Can Stop Annoying People)

Sarcasm is unlikely to relay the meaning you want or win you lots of friends.

woman looking up with her eyes rolled Asier Romero / Shutterstock

Words matter. How you say something communicates more than what you say an your tone greatly impacts how your words are perceived.

As you probably already know from experience, kind and gentle tones are welcoming while snarky or sarcastic tones rarely go over well.

It's crucial to recognize your tone and know how to control it to appropriately convey your message.

Sarcasm is mainly used to say the opposite of what’s true and is often used to make the other person feel off-guard or foolish. Sarcasm has a bite or bitterness in the words that comes across as rude.


Witty is good, sarcastic often is not. Do you want to come across as obnoxious, passive-aggressive, offensive, rude or angry?

RELATED: 17 Everyday Struggles Of Being A Sarcastic Woman

Communication is 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal, which includes facial expressions, gestures, postures, and tone. Sarcasm falls in the area of tone.


Tone makes up 38% of communication, which makes it one of the most important factors to influence how we convey our opinion, feelings, and thoughts.

If you thank someone with a sarcastic tone, it may be perceived as insulting or angry. A sarcastic tone in verbal or written communication is most often going to be perceived in a negative way.

It's common to miss the mark when aiming for a public-appropriate or diplomatic tone. Off-the-cuff comments communicated with a sarcastic tone can alienate others, inspire retaliation and ruin reputations and relationships.

How to Manage Your Tone and Stop Being So Sarcastic

Though sarcasm is almost always a problem in communication, there are slightly different steps to follow depending on whether you are speaking or writing. We will start with verbal communication.


1. How do you really feel and what do you want to say.

Words can be crafted but tone is hard to fake.
It's harder to fake tone in verbal communication than it is to choose your words carefully. By choosing your words carefully instead of off-the-cuff, you give yourself a chance to evaluate the information you wish to convey. This allows time to check your feelings. Strong emotional states always come out in a person's tone.

Make sure you're in the right headspace. Before you say something complimentary, check to see if you are actually feeling angry. When compliments are given from a place of anger, the receiver of the compliment can't help but notice the tone and its non-complimentary meaning.

2. Listen to how you sound.

Truly try to hear how you sound to others. Telling someone you're "fine" when you're not will probably not come across as sounding fine. If you say it with an eye roll or a sarcastic tone, the tone will communicate more than the words. How you sound matters just as much, if not more, than what you say.

Try to hear yourself while engaging in communication with others. You could even ask a trusted best friend for their input about your tone and how it impacts your relationship.


3. Choose a positive tone of voice.

An occasional sarcastic tone may be OK with the right people, but if used too often, it will come across as rude. Its not as easy as changing the tone though, people can hear a fake tone. You have to be coming from an authentic feeling of positivity when you communicate. Give yourself a moment or two and check your mindset for positivity and authenticity before speaking.

4. Practice, practice!

In every conversation, in order to "hit the nail on the head," you must practice in advance. Pause, breathe, and set your intention about saying things in a positive tone. This is not natural for most people so practice at home, with friends, in the shower, etc.

Consciously choose to not be sarcastic when your use your inner dialogue or talk to yourself. Create time and space to practice positive self-talk and positive talk about others. Change your words and you can change your mind.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Teach Kids To Identify Tone Of Voice At An Early Age


We've covered verbal communication, now let's look at the written word.

Don’t allow the veil of the internet to cloud your intent in emails, direct messages, blog post comments, or social media posts.

Sarcasm is all about the context and tone of voice, which is why it usually fails in written communication. Written correspondence should aim to make people gravitate toward you, not to repel them. Aim for composed, articulate, and diplomatic dialog at all times.

5 Ways to Avoid Being Sarcastic in Texts and Emails

1. Carefully balance emotions with pragmatism.

After thoughtfully writing out your response, ask yourself: Does the content add a new viewpoint and educate or does it elicit an emotion, attack, or accusation?


2. Offer facts.

Highlight concrete, objective information to meaningfully support your opinion on a topic.

3. Explain your conclusions.

Steer away from sarcastic attacks aimed at proving how clever you are. Instead, focus on the "why’s" and "how’s" that made you arrive at your conclusion.

Encourage the reader to understand your point of view as much as possible while avoiding sarcastic jabs at their intelligence.

4. Be concise yet detailed.

No one wants to read lines and lines of text, yet not providing enough content can leave the reader looking for answers and understanding. When you give exactly the amount of information needed, without skipping steps or over expanding on details, you create a more logical and less emotionally charged correspondence. This all helps keep sarcastic tones from being used.


5. Write from the heart then edit.

Lay out the essence of your emotions first, then slash out negative or harsh tones and inject insight and positive sentiment.

Aim for an end result that represents you as an engaging and respectable person, one that will educate and attract. Even those who oppose your opinion may still be drawn to you as an emotionally and intellectually-respected person. When you edit out the sarcasm, you win support.

Once you've gotten all of that down, model positive behavior.


Your kids and others are watching. Don’t just talk, walk the walk. Demonstrate the proper way to treat people. Sit with the mom who kind of irritates you and give her a chance. You might be surprised what you learn about — and from — her.

Your ability to communicate is a critical life skill. However, sarcasm creates obstacles to communication. Communication is required in every relationship, opportunity, and experience.

Yet, sarcasm is everywhere and in everyday speech: in literature, on screens, in homes and coffee houses, and in backyards. It can tell you a lot about the personality of a individual. So now is the time to make the change in your communication and see how it changes how people perceive you and your words.

RELATED: 6 Smart Ways To Get Someone To Like You ... According To An FBI Expert


Caroline Maguire, M.Ed., ACCG, PCC founded and facilitates a comprehensive SEL training methodology (#ConnectionMatters) for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals on how to develop critical social, emotional and behavioral skills, in themselves and in others.