Many of you have told me over the years that swearing on the job is one of the best stress-alleviating methods. Well, now you can find solid support for your position in new research that shows that swearing does help alleviate pain.
Scientists from Britain’s Keele University had student volunteers place their hands in a bucket of ice-cold water while swearing repeatedly. They then repeated the exercise using a harmless phrase instead. Turns out subjects were able to keep their hands submerged in the icy water for longer when repeating the swear word.
So should we indeed accept and maybe even encourage swearing in the workplace as a legitimate tool for dealing with those days when you really do need effective relief from all that craziness?
Well, here’s the problem: while you might enjoy a healthy dose of stress-alleviation when you utter those juicy swear words, your actions might be causing pain for those around you. They might find it stressful, offensive and poisonous. It will likely interfere with their concentration and performance.
In that balancing act that every organization has to do between its people’s `freedom to’ (i.e. your freedom to express yourself) and the `freedom from’ (i.e. someone else’s freedom to perform at their best and be shielded from offensive disruption), the `freedom from’ will always trump the `freedom to’.
So what about the benefits swearing? Well, you can always utter profanities and shake your fists in the air in the privacy of your car or home. At work, you’re better off using other stress-reducing practices.
We’re here to help, anytime.