Why not to swear

“Profanity is the crutch of the conversationally crippled.”

My teenaged daughter and I were sitting on the front porch last week enjoying some quiet time together. Our neighbour and her six-year-old daughter walked up the street and stopped to say hello. While we enjoyed our conversation, a passing car slowed down, and the 20-something female driver of the car spoke to my neighbour. The driver peppered her sentences with the f-word.

I thought, “Nice language in front of a six-year-old,” but I didn’t say anything. I thought if I did I would get an eye roll from my daughter who would label her mother a prude. Much to my relief, though, my daughter said, “Nice language in front of a six-year-old.”


My Grade 10 English teacher, Mr. Fleming, told us, “If you want to appear unintelligent, use profanity.” For some reason that lesson always stuck with me. I never want to appear unintelligent, so I make the effort to make strong points using words that have power because of their meaning not because of their ugliness, or their ability to belittle.

Profanity is becoming like white noise in our society—so common, we tune it out. Turn on any (so-called) reality TV show and count the number of bleeps. How many sentences pass without a bleep? Are those sentences as powerful as they could be? Are the speakers intelligent?That is not to say that I never swear.

I do from time to time in extreme circumstances. And I know from experience that if you are a person who rarely swears, when you do it is extremely effective. People stop what they are doing and think about the point you are trying to make.

If you swear all the time, your words are ineffective. They are like white noise that people tune out. And you damage your own credibility. You are common.

Let people know you are powerful and intelligent. Increase your credibility.  Be extraordinary.

Don’t swear. Especially in front of six-year-olds.

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