jdo0752lLast fall my husband and I accompanied college friends to the NC State vs. Tennessee football game in Atlanta. Our alma mater was annihilated.

While commiserating over drinks the word SCHADENFREUDE came up. I had never heard the word before. According to Encarta it means ‘gloating at somebody else’s bad luck; malicious or smug pleasure taken in somebody else’s misfortune.’ You can easily understand how this phrase comes up in sports discussions. A thesaurus I perused provided no alternative words. Schadenfreude is apparently irreplaceable. Hmmmmmm…. Four months later, a phrase popped up that took it to another level.

One of the best HR blogs out there is Kris Dunn’s “the hr capitali$t.” In January he posted HR/CAREER SLANG: “Ball Don’t Lie”… wherein he provided a great example of schadenfreude. Without ever mentioning the word, Dunn took the meaning to a whole new level, and related it to the workplace:

Got a new term/phrase for most of you – Ball Don’t Lie. I like it, and if you like sports even a little bit – I think you should use it. Here’s the meaning from Urban Dictionary:

BALL DON’T LIE – A phrase commonly used by professional basketball player Rasheed Wallace; once famously yelled by coach Flip Saunders.balldontlie1

“Ball don’t lie” is said when a player misses one, two or all three of his free throws after a questionable (read as: bullsh##) foul call is made by an official. The ball is, essentially, the unbiased judge who will not reward the player by going in if the apparent foul was indeed bullshit.

Here’s how it’s used:

Announcer – *Andrew Bogut locks arms with Rasheed Wallace and trips over his own feet, prompting a foul call from the referee*

Rasheed (on the court): That’s BULLSH##, man!

Announcer – *Andrew Bogut toes the line and proceeds to miss his first free throw*

Rasheed: BALL DON’T LIE!

Announcer – *Bogut then attempts a second free throw and misses again*

Rasheed: BALL DON’T LIE!

How can you use that in the workplace? Let’s say you give a manager some prime HR advice, only to have them go against your counsel. You know they’re wrong, and things go horrible for them as a result. People around you know that you gave them advice on how to handle the situation, and ask you what you think.

You could tell them you gave them good advice. You could say, “I don’t want to say I told them so, but…” BORING.

Just respond as follows: BALL DON’T LIE. Tell them to look it up.

sourgrapesI NEVER advocate for pettiness or being snarky. Taking pleasure in another’s pain and misfortune, being malicious or unkind will come back to haunt you. It’s the way life works. What I AM suggesting is that you be mindful of SCHAENFREUDE and watch how life events play out through good old-fashioned karma.

Consider the current government shutdown. Things will balance. BALL DON’T LIE! Don’t make me say, “I told you so!”

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~

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