Mind your language

    Business Spotlight 8/2019
    Sprechblase mit Aufschrift: WTF
    © medesulda/iStock.com
    Von Julian Earwaker

    You lose an important presentation fileDatei; Aktefile. You end a call after a long and completely unreasonable complaintBeschwerdecomplaint. You catch your finger in the drawerSchubladedrawer. Every day at work, shit happens, as they say. And you use fitting language in response.

    Most people to swearfluchen, Kraftausdrücke verwendenswear at some point — sometimes for emphasisNachdruckemphasis, sometimes out of anger. Studies show that swearing can help us tolerate pain. expletiveFluch, KraftausdruckExpletives are part of a rich vocabulary used to communicate not just facts, but emotions.

    Politicians and business leaders make themselves appear more believable when they swear

    In 2006, researchForschungresearch by Northern Illinois University showed an added dimension: swearing “had a significant effect” on the persuasiveness of arguments. Politicians and business leaders make themselves appear more believable when they swear, Pilita Clark writes on FT.com. Perhaps that is why British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly exclaimed “fuck business” when faced with the concerns of industry about a no-deal Brexit. For influencers and business leaders, occasional swearing can serve to to emphasize a pointeinem Argument Nachdruck verleihenemphasize a point, demonstrate assertivenessDurchsetzungsvermögenassertiveness and decisiveness, and show a “common touchetwa: Volkstümlichkeitcommon touch”.  

    And studies reveal that, far from being thoughtless and stupid, swearing can reflect “verbal fluencyverbale Gewandtheitverbal fluency” and social understanding. “It’s part of your emotional intelligence to know how and when to use these words,” Dr Timothy Jay of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts told MedicalDaily.com. “If you’re thinking about it from a moral perspective, you’re missing how common and normal it is. Everybody knows this language.”

    Finding the right balance between credibilityGlaubwürdigkeitcredibility and offenceBeleidigungoffence can be difficult, however. “Sometimes, a well-directed swear word can even create a positive response and let it be known to all that this is an important issueSachverhaltissue that requires a passionate response,” claims Monster.co.uk, an online job-search company. “However, frequency and overuse will reduce your status and to diminish sth.etw. verringerndiminish your power to command respect from others. People who continually swear look like they are out of control.”

    People who continually swear look like they are out of control

    In a surveyUmfragesurvey, CareerBuilder.com found that 81 per cent of employers think swearing at work brings “an employee’s professionalism into question”. “You might think it’s casuallässigcasual and you are to feel comfortablehier: sich (dabei) wohlfühlenfeeling comfortable, but you are still in the workplace and there is a certain level of professionalism that needs to be to maintain sth.etw. wahrenmaintained,” Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, told CNN Business. “You never know if you are within to be within earshot of sb.in jmds. Hörweite seinearshot of the boss or clients.”

    It’s also important to remember that, without body language, such as a smile or a raised eyebrow, swearing can appear offensivebeleidigend, ungehörigoffensive, which is why one should be particularly careful in emails, texts and messages. And written records can have a lasting impactWirkungimpact. “It’s a to be a paper trailetwa: sich zurückverfolgen lassenpaper trail,” Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster.com, told CNN Business. “You might have sent the email jokingly to a co-worker, but then all of a sudden the email goes up the leadership chain and, next thing you know, the vice president has the email and your name is to be attached to sth.mit etw. verbunden seinattached to it.”

    Many workers recognize that swearing can offend others. Yet more than half of workers admit to using bad language in the workplace. Managers need to be aware of the potential impact of swearing, says Entrepreneur.com: “Some supervisorVorgesetzte(r)supervisors may feel that if nobody has complained, nobody is offended. This is a risky assumptionAnnahmeassumption.” Certain words and expressions remain taboo. And racial, religious and other personal slurVerunglimpfungslurs are completely unacceptable inside and outside the workplace.

    Even the mildest of profanities can offend. It all depends on the context and the individual. Writing on PsychologicalScience.org, Timothy Jay and Kristin Janschewitz say that “instead of thinking of swearing as uniformlydurchweguniformly harmful or morally wrong, more meaningful information about swearing can be obtained by asking what communication goalZielgoals swearing achieves.” For example, on Forbes.com, David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom show the difference between a positive, assertiveselbstbewusstassertive use, as in “we are so damn (ifml.)verdammtdamn lucky”, and the negative, unhelpful use, as in “you damn idiot”.

    Many workplaces have no precise policy regarding swearing. This leaves the management of such situations open to subjective interpretation — and challenge. To avoid potential conflict, BizJournals.com suggests workplaces have a simple but specific profanity policy.

    If you fear your swearing may be to get out of handausuferngetting out of hand, why not use an app to help? In 2017, the UK charitykaritative Organisationcharity Comic Relief created the Swear Jar app, which uses voice recognition software to identify 47 swear words in 21 different British accents. Each time a bad word is recognized by the app, a micro-payment is taken from your account and given to charity. Now, that’s a bloody (UK ifml.)verdammtbloody brilliant idea!

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