Profanity? Is it acceptable? Growing up these were the words that got me in trouble. To be clear, I’m not a shrinking violet and I know the words. I’ve even used one or two on occasion to the extreme displeasure of my Father. As daddy’s little girl there was no greater punishment bestowed than to disappoint him. He would look at me and say those are not words a lady uses and walk away. A friend’s mother was even more creative. Upon hearing one of these words, she would immediately request ten socially acceptable synonyms. The end result is these words, while known, are not part of the vocabulary I chose to use.
Imagine my discomfort then, when during a professional facilitation, the accomplished facilitator suggested that profanity is acceptable in a professional context and, for me even more stunning, that this is a window into the true person. My immediate thought was – no it is the sign of a limited vocabulary and an absence of creativity. I probably would have let it pass but for a second conversation that afternoon where yet another group discussed the use of profanity.
I’m of the opinion that words are powerful. The right word at the right time in the specific context has power and the ability to speak in a distinctive manner. Choosing the right word for the right context is an art. It suggests creativity and awareness and the ability to paint a picture. Profanity is a huge stop sign that silences the speaker at the exact time they most want to be heard.