Back in November 2009 I posted an item about Swearing at Work. This reported on an earlier post about a 2007 University of East Anglia Study which suggested that swearing at work might help alleviate stress. The topic has now been picked up and re-cycled again by Jill Insley in the Guardian. She points out that swearing is increasingly “woven into everyday sentences by all sorts of people in everyday working situations, from canteen staff to chief executives”, and inevitably cites Gordon Ramsey and other TV peronalities to make the case.
Swearing in public, at work and elsewhere is more common, but perhaps the broadcast media have made it seem more acceptable than it is. If we are regularly bombarded with expletives of course we start to become desensitised; we develop tolerance for something we feel we cannot change. But does this mean we accept it? I doubt it.
The original research says that while swearing at work may have increased, this is mainly among younger employees. It seems to suggest that people grow out of it, just as they always have done. But – and before you start posting comments with examples of ‘a building site near you’ to prove me wrong – it doesn’t disappear, and some in some environments it is de rigeur.
The message, backed up by common sense and experience (and supported by the research), seems to be, if you must do it, remember that it is still socially taboo in most workplaces. After all, that it what makes it so effective as a stress buster isn’t it? Shouting ‘Shallots!’ or some other replacement for the F word just doesn’t have the same effect. I know, some people have a whole range of silly words they can say in public when they stub their toe do something embarrassing. If these have any effect at all it is because they are symbolic replacements for swear words. I rest my ***** case. Alright!
See If You Only do One Thing this Week, in the Guardian.
Read the Swearing at Work can Cut Stress research.