When I was five, I ran home from playing with my next door neighbors in tears. My parents were concerned that I appeared so upset, and they asked what was wrong. I told them that the neighborhood boys had used the "f" word.
My parents got a little angry -- a 5-year-old kid using the "f" word? -- and they told me I needed to repeat the word and tell them what the boys said. "Nooo, I can't! It's too bad! I can't say it!" I cried to my parents.
They finally told me that I needed to tell them what the boys said. "All right," I sighed. "They... said.... fart!"
As you can see, thinking that "fart" was a bad word at age 5, I was in for a rude awakening when I got older and started to hear real bad words. But bad words were completely forbidden in my house; we weren't even allowed to say "shut up." (To this day, I rarely ever say it). The first time I swore in front of my mother (by accident -- a mere slip of the tongue!) I was 20(!) and I felt absolutely awful about it.
Obviously, as I aged, I realized sometimes those bad words come out in times of frustration. It's something that happens to almost everyone. But when I say "everyone," does that include bosses?
President Obama isn't too shy about dropping a swear or two here and there. Last fall when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, Obama said during an interview (although he didn't realize he was being taped) that West was a, uh, I'll say, a "donkey's behind."
And recently, when addressing the BP oil spill fiasco, Obama told NBC's Matt Lauer he needs to figure out "whose [***] to kick."
Obama may very well have been validated in dropping a swear word when discussing both of those messes, but should he have done them in a public interview? This comes down to another question: is it OK for leaders to swear?
Writer Dan McGinn addresses this in a recent Harvard Business review blog post. He references a recent study where a worker challenged an alpha-male coworker by cussing at him. Although fellow coworkers gasped, the sailor-mouthed employee was later invited to more social events than he was before.
Does dropping the occasional "f" bomb (and no, we're not talking about "fart" now), make your boss seem cooler, more relatable and more "one of us"? Or is it completely unprofessional?
Have you ever wanted to ask your boss, "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Share your stories, opinions and experiences here!