A Holiday for the Brave: 'Insult Your Boss Day'

By Kathy Gurchiek Jul 22, 2008

There are stress management tools and then there is July 23—Insult Your Boss Day.

Muscle up some moxie today and “join forces with your brethren against a common enemy, Satanic supervisors, mean managers, slimy CEOs,” is the advice from A.C. Kemp, a lecturer in foreign languages and literatures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who came up with the idea.

Promoted on her Lady Snark web site—along with her book, The Perfect Insult for Every Occasion: Lady Snark’s Guide to Common Discourtesy (Adams Media Corp, $9.95)—the self-styled honorary chairwoman of the holiday suggests all workers synchronize their watches and at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time insult their bosses “followed by a communal drink at the nearest bar.”

“You might want to make sure your co-workers are planning to do this before you commit to it. Like senior skip day in high school, it only works if everyone participates,” she says on her web site, and it reduces the likelihood of being fired if done en masse.

Verbal insults don’t have to be of the four-letter variety; Kemp, who has taught classes on American slang at theCambridge Center for Adult Education in Boston, suggests firing off a creative, multisyllabic bon mot or two.

Among examples she provides: It’s really a great reflection on the company that they hire cretinous loobies like you.” Translation: “Hiring mentally and physically stunted clods like you demonstrates the company’s dedication to helping the less fortunate.”

For those who quail at the thought of launching a direct assault—who are you weenies, anyway—workers might want to opt for other modes of communication, such as by phone, memo or colorful e-mails, Kemp suggests on the site.

Employers looking to stave off participation among its own workers can turn to the results from a MindTools.com survey of 10,310 business people from 139 countries. It compared 5,878 people who were happy at work with 1,177 who were not.

Among the findings: Stress management skills made the greatest difference in their job happiness.

Employees who are confident in their stress management and other career skills are happiest at work, and these are skills that can be learned, according to Mind Tools, whose white paper is available at http://www.mindtools.com/whitepapers.

“Given that stress is a major cause of unhappiness, it makes sense that good stress management skills are strongly associated with job satisfaction,” said Mind Tools CEO James Manktelow in a press release.

But back to Insult Your Boss Day.

“If you’ve ever wondered how to start your own holiday, put up a web site and send out press releases. It worked for the people at Pumpkin Pie Day and Carpenter Ant Awareness Week—both listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events,” writes Kemp on another of her web sites, www.slangcity.com.

Now that the media has picked it up, she adds, IYBD “is official.”


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