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."

Swearing in the Workplace

Swearing can let workers "better express their feelings, to develop social relationships, or to signal solidarity."—Baruch & Jenkins
Swearing in the Workplace
 
 
Senior Writer and author of the Know It All blog

Ed Cone has worked as a contributing editor at Wired, a staff writer at Forbes, a senior writer for Ziff Davis with Baseline and Interactive Week, and as a freelancer based in Paris and then North Carolina for a wide variety of magazines and papers including the International Herald Tribune, Texas Monthly, and Playboy. He writes an opinion column in his hometown paper, the Greensboro News & Record, and publishes the semi-popular EdCone.com weblog. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, two kids, and a dog.
 
 
 

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