Today one of my students told me he was, “so F*@#!!ng tired!” (This is also described as “dropping the F-bomb!)
I had mixed feelings on how to respond. The “F-word” is used frequently nowadays, especially in casual situations, and it’s heard in most R-rated movies. So, it’s probably important to understand how it’s used and when it can be used effectively.
In business situations, and often in “mixed company”(=both men and women are present), it is much more professional and respectful to refrain from swearing (=cursing). I did a little research on the use of profanity in business and found that swearing is still considered unprofessional. It demonstrates a lack of self-control, a lack of training, and a limited vocabulary.
Personally, I have never felt the need to cuss (cuss is the more commonly used reduction of the word “curse”). When I was in junior high school I experimented with profanity a bit, but my dad explained that it made me seem less intelligent. He was right! It is not impressive when someone describes everything as looking like, feeling like or being “shit,” or “F’d up.” We can express our feelings, our impressions, and our opinions much better without using expletives (=swear words).
However, the title of this post is, “Using inappropriate words appropriately!” There are a few things to consider before we can swear “appropriately.” As I mentioned before, swearing is almost second-nature (=natural, typical) for a lot of people, especially those under the age of 25. The following considerations all “boil down to”(= result in) the idea of respect.
1. In professional environments, whether you are the student or the teacher, the doctor or the patient, cussing isn’t appropriate. It is disrespectful. In business environments, swearing could even be perceived as hostile (especially if you are in a position of authority). Remember: dress and perform for the job you want–not the job you have.
2. Be careful swearing in “mixed company.” As a general rule, more women are uncomfortable with swearing than men. Again, it’s a respect thing. Let the women “set the tone“* of the conversation. Sometimes using mild profanity can be flirtatious or fun ( see James O’Connor’s book, Cuss Control for more on this topic). +My opinion below.
3. Think twice before swearing when you are communicating with people outside your age-group. Don’t swear in front of those young enough to be your children or old enough to be your parents (or grandparents). In fact, swearing in front of a child or an elderly person could cause someone (a parent, or a friend or relative) to react violently towards you if they feel your language is threatening, or harmful to someone they love.
So, back to my student, although he used the F-word “correctly,” it wasn’t appropriate on a number of levels: 1. I am his teacher, 2. I have never used profanity with him, so he should have taken the cue (=the hint) from me that it wasn’t okay, and 3. I am old enough to be his mother. From now on I will just refer those with “dirty mouths” (= a term for people who cuss a lot) and F-bombers to read this post and I encourage you to do so as well! +My opinion below
Of course, the safest way to use inappropriate language appropriately is not to do it! But if you feel deprived (=cheated, like you’re missing out on something) then a good rule of thumb is to follow the lead of a respected role model. Strong language can make a strong impression, use it wisely!
(Here are 10 tips from the “Cuss Control Academy” * http://www.cusscontrol.com/tips1.html *).
During my Christian upbringing I heard about the importance of controlling one’s tongue. Spoken language is powerful and what is said can never be unsaid. Since my goal is to try to be an example of God’s love and grace, for me inappropriate language is never appropriate. There are just too many opportunities to offend or hurt someone since using profanity often communicates disrespect.
#2. About swearing in “mixed company”: a person who is able to control themselves, including their language, is generally more respected and seems more confident and successful.
The Bible instructs us to, “Speak the truth in love.” Although it is sometime awkward to point out to students when they misuse language, or make mistakes, it is important to give honest feedback. Our goal is not to criticize but to increase awareness so language can be used more successfully (and intentionally).
Thanks! Feel free to comment or ask questions (but please keep it respectful) Michele