Even normally reserved members of our society are prone to outbursts
of shocking expletives, tiny children vocalise mouthfuls of dirty
words and thoroughly traumatise their respectable parents. Other
members of our community just swear, the expletives and obscenities
roll off the tongue with fluidity nothing short of genius in
articulation. The child of a swearing genius copies and follows the
language of the home and enters school as a fluent speaker of the
English language interspersed by some our most 'colourful' language.
The child of a reserved and cautious family soon imitates the more
colourful and daring language of their swearing peer only to return
home to repeat their new vocabulary to outraged parents.
As a society we blame television
programmes and cinema movies for the upturn in everyday swearing -
after all, those of you who watched the blockbuster Reservoir Dogs,
like me too scared to observe the horrors enfolding on the screen,
probably found yourself counting the number of times **** or *******
was uttered, whispered or yelled by the main characters. How often do
we hear the beep during our TV chat shows as the presenters or guests
express themselves in their everyday vocabulary so interspersed with
obscenities. Last night I watched the out takes of the early evening
quiz show A Question of Sport. How many who watch the programme in the
early evening imagine the great effort taken over a considerable time
to edit out the swearing to produce a programme which can be watched
by all. Swearing has become so commonplace few of us really appreciate
or have thinking rapid enough to delete the words before we utter
Do those who use our most expressive
words so comfortably recognise the offence to many other people when
such language is uttered? Have obscenities become so commonplace that
the impact is lost to many, the usage of such words no more unusual
than any other adjective? Or do we feel more comfortable expressing
ourselves in the language of those who scare us, after all speaking
the same language gives us a sense of commonality, we do not stick out
in a crowd and by joining in we grow in confidence and feelings of
Swearing still offends, there are
times, there are places and there are people and communities where the
language of obscenity is not tolerated.
Do you swear? Do you swear in passing,
in rage, in fun, to find commonality with your peers? Are you
comfortable when using obscenities? Have you found yourself swearing
when such language is inappropriate? Have you shocked yourself as the
words flowed easily and effortlessly from your tongue?
Have you been aware of the reaction of
those around you when the colour of your language has been too
flamboyant? Even more alarmingly, have you found yourself up in front
of your boss, your headteacher, the police or your parents after
uttering forth a stream of obscenities?
Most of us are required to conduct
ourselves in an appropriate and orderly manner at school and work. At
home our language can offend our friends and family, yet is unlikely
to have serious consequences to our livelihood and future. Used to
excess in public, foul language can send an outraged member of the
public in search of a policeman. At work an incautious outburst of
swearing or a careless slip of the tongue can result in a disciplinary
hearing. The closer to face-to-face contact with customers or clients
your job takes you any outbursts or careless use of obscenities can
result in dismissal.
A careless slip and a salesman closing a contract
will find the business lost, hard earned commission lost in an instant
whilst gaining a furious boss concerned about the reputation of his
company. Most likely a job is lost, a reference hard to come by, a
career in tatters. An overwrought and exhausted doctor, so calm and
dignified at the beginning of a shift swears at a patient. The patient
has no concern for the mental or physical condition of the doctor. The
incident is noted in the doctor's record. A young student is hauled up
for an over enthusiastic tirade of obscenities when drunk after exams.
The young student goes on to be elected as a member of parliament and
several years later rises to the rank of government minister. Growing
dissatisfaction over the policies of the government and rumours of
corruption lead journalists to dig and probe the past life and times
of the government minister. Guess what happens next?
I am certain most of us have found
ourselves at times too close to swearing. When the use of obscenities
becomes a habit we have entered the danger zone for slip-ups at times
considered highly inappropriate. Many years ago I found myself working
alongside a senior manager for whom swearing was a way of life.
Expletives interspersed everyday conversation. I found myself swearing
like a trouper very quickly as I struggled to find some common ground.
The habit grew and I found myself slipping into the use of over
colourful language at home, much to the distress of older family.
What can be done to lose the habit of
swearing, to regain control of our language, to confidently engage in
conversation without fear of slip-ups which can prove so costly to our
work and business life and upset our more reserved friends and
colleagues? Some time ago, a businessman arrived at my office.
A dignified and reserved gentleman,
the businessman had become shocked by the frequency of his swearing,
his family were appalled and colleagues concerned. Expletives would
slip their way effortlessly into his normal conversation. Customer
contact and presentations to board meetings had become a great source
of anxiety as he realised the danger of utilising inappropriate
adjectives to describe the services he offered. The businessman had
traced back time to the beginning of his extended vocabulary. His
teenage son had taken a job working in a factory where the tough guys
used expletives freely in their daily conversation. At home the new
language of the son had resulted in some harsh words, yet in time the
expletives had found their way into the vocabulary of other family
members who began to swear with regularity close to habit.
Afraid he would forget to use clean
language with customers and in doing so lose credibility as a
professional the businessman sought my help. In our business we guide
clients to make changes in their lives to enable them to move forward
by overcoming problems and barriers which impede their progress.
Following therapy, the businessman has continued to inform me of his
progress. He is unable to swear. Swear words and expletives still
flash up in his mind's eye, yet do not trip off his tongue. The
novelty and pleasure of knowing he has overcome a potentially career
threatening habit continues to be a source of pleasure and amusement,
not only for himself, also his family. Giving presentations and
chatting to other businessmen has ceased to be a worrying challenge.
Swearing is a problem which responds
successfully to therapy when the individual who swears is determined
to stop. The more motivated to change a habit, the more successful
therapy will be. Bringing along a teenager who is delighting in being
out and about with his friends is unlikely to be successful, because
the chances are it is Mum or Dad who want the swearing to stop and not
the teenager who is in tune with his peers. The habit of swearing here
is with the teenager and it is the teenager himself who must want to
change. No matter how determined the parents that the teenager will
stop, the 'problem' belongs to the teenager and if he is unwilling to
give this up he will not make the change! So if swearing is a problem
for you, it is your problem and a problem you want to get rid of then
therapy is available which will allow you to move forward with clean
language, free from the consequences of the disastrous slip-up at work
which could undermine your career plans.