profanity filter

Profanity In The Workplace. Why Do We Cuss?

Dang.  This world seems to have spiraled out of control with potty-mouth talk.  When did profanity become acceptable?  When did it become socially acceptable to communicate using cuss words?  Open social media.  Open emails.  Listen to conversations (young and old/educated and uneducated).  Listen to television, radio, music and video.  Look at #hashtags.  Every other word seems to be profanity.

Why do people think that profanity is acceptable in today’s society?

I am not going to even suggest that I don’t use profanity because sometimes I do.  But, I don’t use it often, to make a professional point, use in my common, everyday language, nor use in an audience of people or loved ones.    Does profanity make you a leader?  Does profanity make you respectable?  I think not.

Because of my profession, I do a lot of research on the Internet, through blogs, and via social media.  The more I read, the more concern I have for the lack of respect from people who are in positions of leadership and the up-and-coming workforce, who think that dropping a cuss word or adding “ing” to the end of a cuss word to make it an adjective is okay.  I am here to tell you that in today’s hotel sales environment “It is not okay to use profanity in normal conversation with peers, colleagues, and clients.”

In preparation for writing this blog, I googled “Why do people feel the need to use profanity?”  What I found was both interesting and disturbing.

no profanity
No profanity please!

The first article in my search was published in December 2016 by Time Magazine and is entitled: “Swearing Is Scientifically Proven to Help You *%$!ing Deal”.    This article leans towards pro-swearing and its research has surmised that

… it (swearing) allows us to express our emotions, to vent, to release. “It also communicates very effectively, almost immediately, our feelings,” Jay says. “And other words don’t do that.”


The second article in my search, “Why Do We Swear?” By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. and published in World of Psychology offers a (very) descriptive analysis as to why people swear and doesn’t necessarily lean one way or the other (pro- or con-swearing).


The author suggests that swearing is a natural part of human speech development and that we learn which words are taboo and which words are not through our normal childhood development. Further, he notes that we learn that not all swear words are equal and that sometimes you need a stronger word than “crap” to describe a situation or get a point across.

Do I agree that there are lesser versions of profanity?

Again, this makes me go “hmmm.”

Swearing is more common than you might think. But personality research suggests that people who swear more, not surprisingly, score higher on traits such as extraversion, dominance, hostility and Type A personalities.

While there are many self-proclaimed experts on the topic of profanity (some educated and some just passionate), I find myself re-examining my own choice of words.  I read most of the articles on page one of my search and have come to the same conclusion as the NY Times article, “The Case for Cursing” by Kristin Wong (July 2017).  In her article, she talks about the “profanity paradox” and that “profanity is a cultural construct that perpetuates itself through time”.

The paradox is that profane words are powerful only because we make them powerful. Without their being censored, all of the words we designate by a first letter and “-word” would just be average terms.

Is swearing cathartic?

When you make a mistake or when you hit your thumb with a hammer, is using an expletive lessen the pain?

“There must be evolutionary advantages to cursing, or we would not have evolved to do it,” said Timothy Jay, an emeritus professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts who has written extensively about profanity. “We can express our emotions, especially anger and frustration, towards others symbolically not through tooth and nail. Cursing is coping or venting, and it helps us deal with stress.”

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do?  Go with the flow and incorporate profanity into your daily life?  Temper your language and use profanity only when you want to get a point across?  Or, remove profane language from your vocabulary and run the risk of “not fitting in”?

Still, there are detractors who argue that profanity is unnecessary and should be censored. They’re right: If the foul-mouthed among us want to preserve the benefits of cursing, we need these detractors to ensure that profanity stays profane.

Me, I vote “no profanity” in the workplace, in front of those you love and respect, and instead, proving our intelligence by finding appropriate words and phrases that make us caring, respectful and professional people!

Happy using “f-words” (friendly, that is)!


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