If you’ve been swearing more in the past year or so — even at work — you’re not alone. The corporate and financial research platform Sentieo recently combed through a database of around 9,000 conference call transcripts looking for expletives. They found 166 transcripts that contained them from 2021. That's a significant jump from previous years. Just 104 transcripts contained profanity in 2020, 112 in 2019, and 92 in 2018. So swearing at work appears to be up.
Frustration with the pandemic and a work-from-home informality may both be factors in the rise of swearing. Our question: Is cutting loose with language always a bad thing? Experts quoted in Inc. say “not necessarily.”
Michael Adams, author of In Praise of Profanity, argues that swearing has many useful social functions including “bringing us together.” There’s an intimacy to profanity precisely because it is somewhat taboo. "Bad words," Adams writes, "are unexpectedly useful in fostering human relations because they carry risk.... We like to get away with things and sometimes we do so with like-minded people." Adams believes that swearing can also help us appear slightly more vulnerable and more authentic — both useful qualities in relationship building.
No one is suggesting you begin your next Zoom meeting by imitating a drunken pirate. But for those who are savvy enough to navigate delicate situations, an occasional swear word, science attests, may have genuine utility.
Have you ever uttered swear words at work, and how do you feel when co-workers do so? To join the conversation, click "comments" above just below the picture — we'd love to hear your thoughts!
Relationships with our co-workers are important, but instead of characterizing them as “good” or “bad”, we should acknowledge that they are always shifting. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Professor Kerry Roberts Gibson of Babson College and Professor Beth Shinoff of Boston College discuss how to use “micromoves” to build the work relationships you want, instead of settling for those you have.
Micromoves are “small actions or behaviors that seem inconsequential in the moment but affect how we relate to one another.” They are like the steps that constitute a dance, and each step can change its direction. A positive microwave (like saying thank you or supporting a colleague’s comment at a meeting) can have a resonating beneficial impact, while a negative one (neglecting an email or excluding one colleague in a group lunch) has the opposite impact. The following principles can help you make positive micromoves:
Can you think of a positive or negative micromove you may have made lately, and the results of each? To join the conversation, click "comments" just under the photo above. We'd really like to get your feedback!
Research on resilience —our ability to bounce back from adversity — has shown that giving support to others has a significant impact on our well-being. Our bodies and minds benefit in a variety of ways when we help others, sometimes even generating a “helper’s high”.
In fact, the act of giving advice has been shown to be even more beneficial than receiving it. In a series of studies of 2,274 people, researchers found that after middle-school students gave younger students help with studying, they ended up spending more time on their own homework. Overweight people who counseled others on weight loss were more motivated to lose weight themselves.
In a New York Times article, Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant explained that we often are better at giving advice to people other than ourselves. “One of the best things you can do is call someone else facing a similar problem and talk them through it,” he said. Grant, who co-founded an online networking platform call Givitas, which connects people asking for or offering support and advice, added, “When you talk other people through their problems, you come up with wiser perspectives and solutions for yourself.”
When was the last time you gave advice, and how did it make you feel? Did it benefit you, or the receiver, or both? To join the conversation, click "comments" just above this article, under the photo. We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion are actually just conversations about people. And storytelling, one of the most universal human experiences, gives us a chance to look through new lenses and gain new perspectives from co-workers who may have had different life experiences. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, inclusion consultants Selena Rezvani and Stacey A. Gordon offer steps to implement a story-based approach to DEI.
In this approach, employees are encouraged to tell and own their stories, and consider how they impact their experiences at work. For those who are unsure how to unearth their own diversity stories, the authors offer some possible prompts:
As the authors say: “In our attempts to create more awake and aware environments, we’re forgetting that numbers typically don’t inspire us to change our behavior — people and stories do.”
How might storytelling based on DEI benefit your organization? Do you have a story you would care to share? To join the conversation, click "comments" above this article, just under the photo.
All day, every day, we are faced with decisions, from what to wear to whether to pursue a new job. Even deliberating in the toothpaste aisle at the drugstore can feel overwhelming. The pandemic added even more choices to our daily routine, as we pondered safety concerns and time allocation when work and school came into our homes. Faced with too many options, we can become anxious or even paralyzed. This is “decision fatigue” -- a state of mental overload that can impede our ability to make additional choices.
When decision fatigue kicks in, you may feel you just don’t have the bandwidth to deal with more decisions. This can lead to depleted self-control, causing you to avoid making certain choices entirely, to go with the default option, or to make choices that don’t align with your values.
In a series of experiments, researchers asked people to choose from an array of consumer goods or college course options or to simply think about the same options without making choices. The choice-makers experienced reduced self-control, less physical stamina, greater procrastination and lower performance on tasks; the choice-contemplators didn’t experience these depletions.
We can't entirely eliminate decision fatigue, but experts say the following can help cope with an over-abundance of choices:
How do you cope with the feeling of having too many choices? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
Social skills correlate with career success, and lacking them can hold you back. The good news, according to Fast Company columnist Judith Humphrey, founder of the Humphrey Group leadership communication firm, is that you certainly can improve your interpersonal skill set, once you know what to focus on.
Here are her five concrete indicators that someone is socially adept:
How do you ascertain whether or not a colleague is socially skilled? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
Hybrid work is here to stay, and leaders will face challenges as they manage a workforce that is part in-person and part remote. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, management consultants Kalle Heikkinen, William Kerr, Mika Malin, and Panu Routila, offer advice based on interviews with 38 executives in Nordic countries. (Nordic leadership teams are used to operating in complex settings with employees spanning multiple nationalities, languages, and locations.)
What do you view as the biggest obstacle to seamless hybrid working, and what will you do to address it? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, consider giving your loved ones these gifts—each with more staying power than flowers, cards, or chocolates:
As marriage and business partners for over 40 years, we can attest that while confronting issues is never easy, avoidance is worse. And we still endorse chocolate too: It’s good for your heart!
We want to hear: What communication behaviors would you like to change in your relationships this year, and what steps are you taking to do so? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
New Years resolutions, if not exactly “made to be broken,” don't have great staying power. Seventy–five percent of “resolvers” keep their resolutions after one week, 64 percent after a month, and merely 8 percent twelve months later.
But the reasons go beyond lack of will power. According to Elizabeth Grace Saunders, time management coach and author of How To Invest Your Time Like Money, many people fail to accomplish new goals because they don’t consciously eliminate old activities from their schedule to make room for the new. It’s like “trying to stuff more papers into a file drawer that’s already packed tight.”
If your resolutions involve workplace goals and behaviors, consider the following:
Welcome to our Community of Practice Forum, a forum dedicated to highlighting people and organizations around the world who have created best practices by applying our core communication tools and models to real life, real time situations.
The purpose of this forum is to serve as an incubator for ideas, where people share and learn from each other’s experiences. It is a place to inspire others and also be acknowledged for your cutting edge communication practices. Our goal is to create a community of people practicing together; a powerful support network with the purpose of helping each other to transform engrained communication habits into sustained, positive outcomes.
So please share any applications – big or small – that have worked for you. We look forward to joining the conversation.