Swearing at work 'boosts morale'

2004

The next time you are having a bad day at work and feel like letting rip to those around you, just go ahead and do it. Research has discovered that swearing and whingeing to colleagues can actually help boost team morale.

Researchers at New Zealand's Victoria University have found that whingeing or whining - described as a "long or repeated expression of discontent not necessarily intended to change or improve the unsatisfactory situation," – is both a useful emotional release and a good way of building a rapport with others.

"Team-mates regularly have a moan to each other; whingeing to a sympathetic co-worker both reflects and constructs the close relationship between team members, thus consolidating the team's solidarity," the research team found.

The research – which delivers a healthy kick in the ***s to political correctness – Also looked at the 'colourful' conversation patterns of workers in a New Zealand soap factory.

And it found that staff in the factory would do well to wash their mouths out with some of their own product.

The f-word was easily the most commonly used swearword, but viewed in the context of the close-knit workforce, it could not be considered offensive, the study revealed.

"Forms of f. . . occur frequently in certain contexts and serve a range of functions, including the role of positive politeness strategy. F. . . is regularly associated with expressions of solidarity, including friendly terms of address. It reflects the attitude that says that I like you, so I can be rude to you," the researchers said.

Language that might land you at an employment tribunal in the UK was also seen as inoffensive in the context of the factory, the researchers said. Phrases like "dumb bitch" or a "dumb moll" actually meant "I like you, so I can be rude to you".

The complaining was an emotional release and a typical way of establishing a rapport with others: "Team-mates regularly have a moan to each other; whingeing to a sympathetic co-worker both reflects and constructs the close relationship between team members, thus consolidating the team's solidarity."

Professor Janet Holmes, the study's director, said that in the appropriate context, swearing was not offensive and demonstrated the fact that language was constantly evolving.