Feature

Workplace

Profanity: We swear by it

Workplace

Profanity: We swear by it
Profanity seems to be everywhere, starting with our elected leaders, said Duff McDonald in New York. Both New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Vice President Dick Cheney have famously been caught using foul language, and “office cursing is so prevalent” that many hardly notice it. In 2002, the research group Public Agenda found that 44 percent of Americans reported hearing profanity “often” in daily life. Extreme profanity has no place in the office, according to the Emily Post Institute’s Peter Post. But occasional swearing is “no big deal if the culture of the workplace permits it.” In fact, one new study suggests profanity in the workplace can actually boost morale, said Jennifer Waters in Marketwatch.com. Though “repeated occurrences of swearing, threats, and verbal abuse” can create an unpleasant work environment, offices that tolerate profanity actually tend to be more productive.” According to the authors of a study published in the U.K.-based Leadership and Organization Development Journal, taboo language creates a sort of solidarity. Men use cursing to lob friendly insults at each other, while women use it to assert themselves. That doesn’t mean managers should encourage swearing. But smart ones might think twice before banning it.

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