PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to explore the use and misuse of swearing in the workplace.Design/methodology/approachUsing a qualitative methodology, the authors interviewed 52 lawyers, medical doctors and business executives in the UK, France and the USA.FindingsIn contrast to much of the incivility and social norms literatures, the authors find that male and female business executives, lawyers and doctors of all ages admit to swearing. Further, swearing can lead to positive outcomes at the individual, interpersonal and group levels, including stress-relief, communication-enrichment and socialization-enhancement.Research limitations/implicationsAn implication for future scholarship is that “thinking out of the box” when exploring emotion-related issues can lead to new insights.Practical implicationsPractical implications include reconsidering and tolerating incivility under certain conditions.Originality/valueThe authors identified a case in which a negative phenomenon reveals counter-intuitive yet insightful results.
Journal of Managerial Psychology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 13, 2017
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