From that very first time we heard our parents slip out a few choice words as children, we’ve been told that “swear words” are BAD and only to be used by “adults” on rare occasions. We’ve been told that using such language is impolite, inappropriate, and suggestive.
Let’s just examine that rhetoric for a moment. What are the instances in which the average person is most likely to swear? According to an article from The New York Post, there are some very acceptable instances where swearing can actually be a good thing.
Heck, even science backs it up!
The first and probably most immediately beneficial time to swear is when you experience pain, anger, frustration or sadness. Just think about it. Bellowing out one of those choice words is the most natural response to stubbing your pinky toe on the coffee table in the middle of the night. If that stinging toe doesn't feel quite as painful immediately after you've cursed it out, it's not just in your head.
Experts who were interviewed by The New York Post supported this theory by performing a small experiment.The article states:
“A senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University managed to prove that swearing actually dulls pain by sticking 67 of his students in an icy cold bath. One group was allowed to swear while the other was only allowed to say neutral words. And Dr. Richard Stephens found that swearing increased his students’ pain threshold by almost 50%.”
When interviewed by Men’s Health Stephens explained that “Swearing triggers a well-known stress-induced analgesia. It’s part of the fight or flight response. Adrenaline is released, the heart pumps faster and we become more enabled to overcome an aggressor or make a swift getaway. Swearing helps many people better tolerate pain.”
In addition to pain tolerance, swearing at work can reduce stress and boost company morale and camaraderie, according to the study.
There’s no doubt that things at work can get pretty stressful, and companies spend great amounts of time and energy on team building exercises when the cheapest solution is to encourage employees to be able to express themselves freely. But what’s the most effective way to implement that?
You guessed it, by making moderate swearing an acceptable practice!
It is proven that swearing can show that we belong in a certain group, that we are able to be ourselves and wholly comfortable and secure with the members of that group. Laura MacLeod, LMSW practicing in New York told NBC News that "By using words that are not welcomed or appropriate in most settings (professional, family, social) it can be very liberating to throw caution to the wind and curse. When we complain, vent or share anger without cursing, we are keeping ourselves in check.”
Therefore, being in a working environment where moderate swearing is an accepted stress relief practice, allows you to feel more connected to yourself and the raw emotions of your team. If done correctly, it can signal that we are open, honest, self-deprecating, easygoing, and fun-loving.
The common theme here is that when used in moderation swearing can have a multitude of positive outcomes. So as long as you’re not cursing like a sailor, those slips of the tongue should be embraced and encouraged. When in doubt, swear it out!
What do you think about this new take on swearing? Will you start swearing more? Let us know in the comments below.
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