One more word on cursing

Subject: One more word on cursing
From: karen_otto -at- agilent -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 10:15:52 -0700

I missed most of the discussion on this topic, but I wanted to mention a
couple of my experiences.
You can be fired for language at the company I work for. It depends on what
you say, of course, and firing offenses are typically due to harrassment. So
the f-word in an e-mail probably wouldn't do it, but the n-word would (IGH -
I'm Guessing Here). I know anecdotally of some who've been fired for
language. Also for drugs and sex in a car in the parking lot, but those are
other topics.

On the other hand, though, in our local diversity group, a couple of us
discovered that colleagues we have WOULDN'T curse in front of us (females),
but those same colleagues have reputations for cussing up a blue streak.
So we began an experiment. We began cursing in front of them. First mild
words, then stronger. It was actually quite entertaining for me. I stopped
when a person used the f-word or reached their own "natural" level.

I judged success by hearing them initiate a conversation with curse words
rather than waiting for me to do it. All of my test subjects save one seemed
to actually relax around me and feel better knowing they could use their
"full" vocabulary. Note that I never discussed this with any of the test
subjects, it was all in my using words first, and them following.
My one holdout still does not curse in front of me to this day, although his
partner works with me and reassures me that he feels comfortable cursing
like the proverbial sailor. I suspect either he knows about the experiment
or just won't curse in front of women.

The company I work for has a reputation for speaking nice-nice, but cursing
still happens here, and is not frowned upon until a listener says, "Stop."
Then it's frowned upon, but you can still curse where that has not happened.

Karen Otto
karen_otto -at- agilent -dot- com

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