In America during the 1990s, one of the most childish, and entertaining, forms of put-down
was created on the streets and then immortalised in scores of teen movies.
PUT-DOWN:"Yes, they grow when I water them, so buy me a beer and then clear off."
PUT-DOWN: "Whatever you've lost, I really don't think you'll find it down my top."
There is nothing really funny about such put-downs. Joking at the expense of others is verbal abuse, and it is more deliberate (thus perhaps more unacceptable) than verbal abuse stemming from a loss of temper.
Watch out for these common put-downs. Humiliating staff members may make a supervisor feet clever or superior, but it doesn't do anything positive for them, and it can play havoc with their morale.
This put-down represents a desire to escape responsibility or involvement .
To guard against this type of put-down, try at all times to listen to your staff members and show that you are interested in them--make an effort particularly when you have a lot of things on your mind that could preoccupy you.
Some laboratory supervisors I have discussed this with acknowledge it is a common weakness, but they don't understand why it is a put-down. They don't realize that a put-down doesn't have to be abusive.
PUT-DOWN: I thought you were a future lover, until you opened your mouth.
PUT-DOWN: Do you deliver meals on wheels to old invalids?
PUT-DOWN: And if you were a real man I'd stay and talk to you.
Spy's put-downs are on perhaps their most prominent pedestal in the magazine's Review of Reviewers column, which is rarely anything more than an extended, disjointed, name-calling session.
The In side of the In-and-Out list occupies a higher moral ground than the Out side, In is trendy, but Out is both trendy and a put-down, meant to encourage the reader to feel disdain and also a measure of fear.
On a percentage-of-content basis, Spy is more fully devoted to the put-down than any other American periodical.
But Spy's enforcement of the meritocratic code dissolves, finally, into an elaborate put-down game meant to signal superior taste to everyone-and most particularly to other members of the meritocracy, who worry greatly that they, too, will be exposed as lacking.