Let’s Talk about Dag Nammit Swearing at Work

Posted on September 15, 2014 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)


Dang! I’ll bet if you saw that title, you clicked right on over here to read more!

This is more of a confession than a sermon on swearing at work. Just because I write about things that happen in the work place and what I feel should be done to rectify situations, does not make me sanctimonious. Here’s an area where I should pay closer attention.

One of my fondest memories from the movie, “A Christmas Story,” is when Ralphie swears when trying to help his father fix a flat tire.

Ralphie: Oooh fuuudge!

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Only I didn’t say “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word!

Mr. Parker: [stunned] *What* did you say?

Ralphie: Uh, um…

Mr. Parker: That’s… what I thought you said. Get in the car. Go on!

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] It was all over – I was dead. What would it be? The guillotine? Hanging? The chair? The rack? The Chinese water torture? Hmmph. Mere child’s play compared to what surely awaited me.

At our house, the F word was strictly taboo when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s.  Lesser swearwords describing fecal material weren’t so bad. But still we couldn’t even use the other “F” word, “fart.” To this day, I can’t say that word without laughing hysterically like I did in 3rd grade. You could never say, “God – ‘dang-it’” either because that means you wish God would go to hell. (Still does.)

Did we get what Ralphie got? Yes. Ugh. Fast forward to high school. Now you’re a big shot, right? You want to fit in with the in-crowd and so you swear along with the best of them showing off how cool you are. Next thing you know, you swear so much, you’re using verboten swear words for common adjectives! Does your mother still wash your mouth out with soap? Yes.

As a society with all its negative influences, especially through music and the movies, we feel we have permission to swear our heads off too, and since we are not in high school anymore, we still want to be cool – or maybe we don’t care who hears us swear.

Putting “being cool” aside, cursing and swearing has been going on for quite some time. I can only imagine what Adam and Eve said when cast out of Eden for screwing up. There has to be a beginning to the first people who ever swore, so might as well blame it on them.

From what I remember in school, swearing is an action used in order to produce spit. Yes, it’s true. Most swear words, and likely in many other languages as well, are usually pretty guttural. Try them out, especially when shouted. You will find you are spitting. Swearing and consequently, spitting, is supposed to relieve your anxiety while under pressure or when angry. For some, it may be hard to suppress. Some have substitute swear words so that they do not offend others within earshot, or in front of children. I learned one from a former boss, who used to shout out, “Piffle!” Yes, it spits.

It has been said that swearing is a form of ignorance when someone cannot call upon the lexicon in their brains for more intellectual words. I heartily concur.

Finally, when swearing at work, we (I) have to be careful not to be too abrupt with even the most casual of swearing, the minor offenders, such as “crap.” It’s one of my favorites. I’d hate to stop saying it. I just want to be more aware of what others might think when they hear it come out of my mouth. Yikes!


My son, a millennial, has a bad habit of saying the “F” word in almost every sentence uttered. I can see using it in extreme cases when really upset, but not in casual conversation. I don’t know if it’s a generation thing or what – hopefully not hearing it from me! One thing I do believe is that my son may be using it for shock and awe value. He’s brilliant at his work, and I reminded him of the purpose of swearing which I mentioned above. It didn’t seem to faze him and he continues in the same habit. I told him one day he would swear in front of the wrong people and they would not look favorably on him for work. But “Oh, Ma!” What do I know? Finally, as a last resort, and since I don’t think soap will work, I told him that no matter how old he is, I would remove his two front teeth. Try saying the “F” word then!

TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)

About TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)

Great companies know that it takes highly engaged employees to retain customers and make their brand promise come alive. To make the connection between your employees, customers and brand, you need a partner with deep expertise across several areas. Only KANTAR TNS has over two decades of employee survey experience, as well as access to the consultative and research resources of the world’s largest customer satisfaction benchmark database and brand analytics research. Whether you have 200 employees or 200,000, Kantar TNS has the expertise and the advanced measurement, reporting, and follow up tools you need to deliver on your employee and customer brand promise.

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