As few years back, my husband and I accompanied college friends to the NC State vs. Tennessee football game in Atlanta. Our alma mater, The Wolfpack, was annihilated.

After the game, while commiserating over drinks the word SCHADENFREUDE came up. Never heard of the word. 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. Months later, a phrase popped up in a blog post that took it to another level.

One of the best HR blogs out there is Kris Dunn’s “the hr capitali$t.” 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.

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.”

It’s basketball season. March Madness isn’t far away. Beware the Ides of March! SCHADENFREUDE.

Enough about basketball. Consider SOCIAL SCHADENFREUDE:  “So me and my boyfriend broke up two months ago because he left me for another girl he met online but he doesn’t know that girl is secretly me catfishing him,” (unclefather).

As Dunn outlines, “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.”

I NEVER advocate for pettiness or being snarky. Taking pleasure in another’s pain and misfortune, being malicious or unkind? Sadly, it happens all the time. Be mindful of SCHAENFREUDE and watch how life events play out through good old-fashioned karma. Great example: the US Congress and government shutdown discussions….well, ANY kind of discussions.

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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