I’m glad Harvard Business Review decided to open this can of worms as it is one that I have been considering for a while. I find the more candid the person, the more frequent the colorful language. Profanity is a matter of opinion and culture. If someone utters a curse word in another language, we don’t know it was a curse word; the same as when someone says “son of a biscuit,” “darn,” “got to be more careful,” “sucker,” and so many other cleaned up versions of curse words. The point is the expression of the individual and in my opinion it is controlling and arrogant to say that the person should have used different words to express their own ideas.
The expression of a “profane” word only lasts for a moment, but the torture over judging the expression lasts much longer and does much more damage. I have appreciated the CEO who used a colorful word to show camaraderie; but I have also cringed when a CEO that I was managing PR for cursed publicly. At the end of the day I have chosen to get over it and I suggest that others do the same. There are so many more issues to be concerned about the character of a leader than whether or not they use a word that is considered a curse word. As far as President Obama’s recent comments…where his critics are concerned he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. I don’t recall any such discussion when the president was caught on camera calling Kanye West a “jack ass.”
My advice to the leader is to limit your use of profanity for the sake of porch monkey’s, I mean social loafers who get easily distracted. My advise to individuals looking to judge leaders, pay attention to the whole of what is being said and find out what you can learn. If you focus on semantics and look for a reasons to be offended by the words used to describe an idea you will remain ignorant and miss the whole point of the conversation. I’m just saying…
Andrea Raquel (TSE) is CEO of Better Me, Inc. and COO of E2P2, Inc.