Swearing in the Workplace
President Barack Obama said on national television that the massive Gulf oil spill had him pondering "whose ass to kick." It was not exactly paint-peeling, Pattonesque stuff, especially considering what’s said across pop culture in this day and age, but it proved an eyebrow-raiser nonetheless in many quarters, and the catalyst for a national conversation on appropriate language by executives. Harvard Business Review blogger Dan McGinn kicked off a lively comment thread at the site with a post titled, "Should Leaders Ever Swear?" The ur-text in this area is a 2007 research paper by Yehuda Baruch and Stuart Jenkins of the University of East Anglia, entitled "Swearing at work and permissive leadership culture: When anti-social becomes social and incivility is acceptable," originally published in the Leadership and Organizational Development Journal. The authors, who did on-site, undercover research within a company, argue for "the relevance, and even the importance, of using non-conventional and sometimes uncivil language in the workplace."