This page is older archived content from an older version of the Emerald Publishing website.

As such, it may not display exactly as originally intended.

3 reasons why swearing at work is OK

Image: Swearing at work

Swearing is uncouth, rude and unprofessional. Or so we’ve been lead to believe.

Research from the Journal of Managerial Psychology recently told us that swearing at work can actually bring social cohesion and sharing a few expletives could actually help, rather than hinder your career. 

So here’s why you should consider f***ing swearing at work…

Swearing is a great stress reliever  

The study found nearly all of the individuals swore at work and the main reason for turning the air blue was stress – looming deadlines or frustrating meetings were the most common triggers.

Swearing over the ‘phone or in written communications was off limits though and most people wouldn’t swear around religious colleagues.  

It really helps with anger issues

Comparatively, swearing was likened to having a cigarette to relax after a difficult negotiation, others said it provided cathartic relief, and another said they really enjoyed the contrast with highly polished technical language of their job.  

There were other benefits too, for many they felt it grabbed their colleagues’ attention and conveyed urgency.

It helps you to make friends at work

Swearing around suppliers, clients or patients was classed as off limits and sharing a few swear words around colleagues increased the sense of belonging to a group. Some people used swearing in a humorous way to develop friendships. Most agreed that swearing was seen as a way to conform to social norms and matched their language to others for an increased sense of belonging.

Swearing around superiors was a big no-no though, “unless you don’t care about your job” and could hinder or halt chances of promotion if it degraded your image. Instances of swearing backfiring were rare however. 

What is your view? Do you think the rules around swearing need to be relaxed in your workplace? Send us your opinion on Twitter using the hashtag #RealWorldResearch and mentioning @EmeraldGlobal

Like what you are reading? Want to explore more research that matters?

Read our #RealWorldResearch magazines for free   ▶

The content for this article is from 'The benefits of bad language at work', from the journal Human Resource Management International Digest Vol 25.4. This is a precis of the original article 'Swearing at work: the mixed outcomes of profanity' from the Journal of Managerial Psychology Vol: 32.2.

Like what you're reading? Then you may also be interested in features on…

Image: Leadership. Image: Strategy & Growth. Image: Work Culture.



Image: Innovation & Technology. Image: Wellbeing. Image: World Events.