You stupid *****!
Who likes being sworn at like this? Very few, we imagine, but swearing is now so widespread that most of us encounter it, whether we like it or not, at work, in public places and, perhaps, at home.
To some people, swearing makes no difference and they happily litter their speech with expletives, oblivious to the effect this has on others; but for many people, swearing is offensive – and nowhere moreso than in the business or work environment.
Language is often used to achieve objectives through agression: jargon is effective for intimidating those with inferior knowledge, while swearing is an offensive weapon, intended to hurt and overpower opponents; and definitely not polite.
Yet celebrities, such as entertainers and chefs, create the impression that swearing is fun, expressive, motivational. To some people, it may be, but not all. Swearing upsets, intimidates and crushes many people; but who is going to bother to ask a person if they mind being sworn at before they let fly a string of rapid-fire expletives?
At a time when workplace bullying, rampant absenteeism and wholesale disillusion with employment are endemic, just how much research is necessary to deduce that one of the biggest reasons why so many people lack any enthusiasm for doing their jobs well is that they do not feel valued? Or that the starting point is the personal treatment of individuals?
In an age of extremes, where workplace practices in the same company can fluctuate between group hugs and boot-camp brutality, why does the basic fact elude us that many people just want to be recognised and valued for who they are?
This includes treating every person in a business, whatever their grade or level, with respect: a friendly greeting, acknowledging a person’s presence, seeking opinions, asking questions politely and paying thanks – all acts which add nothing to a company’s costs and require no specialist training. Isn’t this worth it, if only to reduce the number of “duvet days” or “sickies” which employees take because they can’t face coming to work?
With low employment in the UK and recurring skills shortages in many sectors, it is astounding that more businesses do not apply such a philosophy. Instead, there seems to be an endless search for motivational techniques, programmes and gimmicks, when simple, accessible solutions stare us in the face. Is it because these solution are too traditional, common sense, unexciting?
When there are considerable pressures to reduce costs and make businesses ‘lean and mean’, it can be easy to forget the impact of this on the people who keep businesses running – those who ‘do the work’. A boss or manager wanting to appear formidable to staff by swearing is unlikely to gain or retain any respect; staff will probably just swear back under their breath and look for another job. It certainly won’t put anyone in the frame of mind to work more productively.
Perhaps this is why we never see presenters peppering corporate presentations with expletives or directors addressing shareholders using obscenities. When was the last time a sales person swore at you when trying to persuade you to buy their product or service? Would you buy anything from someone who swore at you?
It’s unreasonable to expect anyone never to swear again; it can even be argued that in the right circumstances swearing can sometimes be acceptable. Generally speaking, it is not courteous to swear at work. From a personal point of view it can be highly unpleaseant, while any business allowing this can been to be passively supporting a culture where individuals are not respected.
Who wants to work in or even have contact with a such a business?