If you shoot a bullet someone dies. If you drop a bomb many die. You hit a woman, love dies. But if you say the F-word… nothing actually happens.
― Richard Curtis (writer of Love, Actually and other great works)
Swearing has its time and place. If I had to pick a side, I’d say I’m pro-swearing but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to drop an F-bomb anytime I want.
I’ve been known to throw up a caution flag on someone’s swearing, depending on the situation. In a restaurant with families and seniors nearby, there’s usually no good reason to pepper one’s conversation with obscenities. I think it becomes a habit for some people and they need to learn how to turn it off sometimes.
I’ve also been known to be one of those people who drops the unnecessary F-bomb at work. Not on the air! But in a small meeting or in an animated discussion. Often times, I’ll take note of it and clean up my conversation. Sometimes, I don’t realize it until later. Once, I was admonished by the most judgmental colleague I’ve ever had the misfortune of working with. And a study from Stanford University explains why that moment felt so uncomfortable.
The authors of this research on the relationship between profanity and honestly concluded:
We found a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty; profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level, and with higher integrity at the society level.
Integrity and honesty. That’s what my critic lacked, and why his admonition seemed so phony.
No one is recommending non-stop swearing but when it’s appropriate, it’s indicative of how you really feel. Still, there are plenty of people who are bothered by it so you have to make sure you know your audience. But the person who’s always offended by swearing in every context, and says so? Don’t trust ’em.