Does a Potty Mouth Pay?

myki_mFlickr As a partially reformed foul mouth, I’m always intrigued by cussing in the work place. For some businesses it’s obviously totally off limits. You can’t have the hostess at the Olive Garden telling you to sit your sorry a** down. However, in light of recent economic news, I can’t think of another time people would be tempted to let ‘er rip.

It seems the more intimate the setting, the more likely people are to use swear words. Or maybe it’s a generational/societal thing and we’ll all be swearing and thinking nothing of it soon. It’s a slippery slope. (I have to remind the neighbor kids that we don’t use frickin’ at my house.) Or maybe it just depends on the workplace.

What’s the Point of Swearing at Work?

I learned that you can always find another word to get your point across. But sometimes that’s just not true. Sometimes you want the wow factor of a cuss word. But as these words become more accepted, does the wow wear off? And then what’s left behind?

A lot of people believe swearing at work can improve morale? One 2007 study even ‘proved’ it. Have you ever felt a little closer to the boss after the dropping of an F-Bomb? A relaxed attitude can make people feel more comfortable, but does this lead to increased productivity or just a degradation of workplace civility?

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Do Men Swear More Than Women?

More interesting is the difference between the sexes. Are guys more prone to cuss at work, or only in front of other men? When I was working for a big accounting firm I found out that certain partners communicated quite differently with the men than they did with the women. I never heard them utter anything improper. The guys, however, enjoyed a much less restrained relationship. I always wondered if that worked to my benefit or detriment. It would have been nice to cuss with the guys, but it was also quite pleasant to be spared from their uncensored frustration.

Do you use foul language at work and if so, do you have any self-imposed rules for doing so?

Image Credit: nyki_m, Flickr

  • Ben

    I think in any setting that the wow factor depends entirely on how often the speaker cusses. For some of my coworkers, the use of foul language would immediately communicate that they are serious and it would catch my attention. For others – two bosses in particular – they swear so frequently that people just think less of them overall and their points are never enhanced through its use.

    Personally, I only use foul language in front of my coworkers when I am extremely unhappy with something and need to convey it forcefully.

  • John

    One of my college friends told me once he doesn’t believe there are such things as “bad” words, just words. Different words have different purposes (e.g. to encourage, inform, shock or even pick a fight).

    He stressed the importance of knowing when to use which words.

  • We started a swear jar for one of the guys in operations last week because he swears so much. I love a good foul mouthed conversation when it’s in the right context, but swearing at work isn’t so nice. It’s all about location and company.

  • Investment bankers are known for their naughty language. There is a good reason, too, even before the current financial crisis.

    http://epicureandealmaker.blogspot.com/2008/04/not-safe-for-work.html

    Warning: The above blog post title represents truth in advertising. Beware.

  • Dobbs Fox

    I recently worked a temp job where two of the office people had a “thing” where they cussed all the time. Every third word out of their mouths was an explative.

    To me, they sounded like complete idiots with no regard for their co-workers. Constant cussing wears like fingers on a chalkboard. Completely unprofessional. I quit that job after two days (the only temp job I ever quit).

  • I must be getting old because the other night I watched one of the old Lethal Weapon movies and I couldn’t get over how much they used the F word. After 30 minutes it lost all effect and was just stupid. I guess my old drama teacher was right – we can always find a more descriptive word!

  • Drea

    Tell that to YouTube commenters…