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Keeping Profanity Out of the Dialogue


… by Marcus Sheridan

Many of you will not agree with what I’m about to say within this post. And to be honest, that’s OK. This is a subject that has been rolling around in the back of my head for quite some time now and it’s one that no one in the blogosphere has spent much time addressing. So despite the fact that some may be quite put off or offended by the following words, I feel it’s time I put my thoughts to pen regarding what I feel is a rather important subject—Profanity and Communication.

The subject to this post really started a few months ago when I attended a seminar of a very good speaker. The presenter was passionate, maintained his audience, and had obviously put quite a bit of thought in his message. But despite these positive traits, I was surprised to hear him use 4 or 5 curse words during his presentation.

Now I know you may be wondering what the words were. Let’s just put it this way, they were rather mild. Heck, they were words that one could easily find on the television in 2011. Notwithstanding, I was concerned for this speaker because I knew that some of the people in the audience wouldn’t necessarily share his passion for such vernacular.

Don’t be Fooled by Your Audience

Shortly after the presentation, I commenced talking to a gentleman who, at first site, would be viewed by many as a ‘good ole boy’—boots, cowboy hat, and the faded jeans to fit the bill. Upon asking him his thoughts on the seminar, he rather surprised me with the following statement. It went something like this:

‘I didn’t appreciate that man’s language’.

And that, my friends, was this good man’s lasting memory of what was in reality an excellent discourse. By simply sprinkling in less than a handful of ‘curse’ words, the speaker had completely lost at least one of the members of his audience. This, in my opinion, is a crying shame.

Principles Remain True

Some of you may think this is silly. Others might say, ‘Well it’s 2011, times have changed’. Frankly, I’d beg to differ. In fact, I submit the principles of great communication are as applicable today as they were 100 or even 1000 years ago.—-If you can deliver a great message, without offending parts of your audience, then why wouldn’t you?

Now before any of you start thinking that I’m here to judge someone for their use of the English language, allow me to say I am not. I’ve got too many personal issues to correct before I start judging others and the way they talk. I don’t care if you cuss like a sailor. But the idea of cussing like a sailor around other people who don’t share such linguistic patterns is, may I say, disrespectful and potentially quite detrimental to your influence and ultimate earning power.

False Assumptions…To What End?

So many speakers and writers just assume everyone speaks and uses profanity the way they do, oblivious to the fact that there are thousands and thousands of people online this very second that are offended by hearing and reading curse words.

Along these same lines, I’ve come across many in the blogosphere that go out of their way to profane. It’s almost as if they can’t put a thought together without adding a 4-letter word for more supposed emphasis.

As a reader, I understand I have a choice to move to the next blogger. But such isn’t my point. My point here is WHY? Why must great speakers and writers use such language? Is it really that necessary? I dare say it’s not.

The Language Legends

Bill Cosby is arguably one of the greatest comedians and actors of the late 20th century. I grew up watching The Cosby Show and was brought to ‘happy’ tears with Cosby’s hilarious stand-up routines discussing parenthood, family, etc. Cosby was loved by almost everyone of that generation and never once did he feel the need to interject profanity into his efforts to make others smile.

Jim Rohn, in my opinion, was the greatest self-improvement expert of the second half of the 20th century as well as the beginning of the 21st century until he passed away in 2009. During his lifetime, Rohn touched millions of people by speaking at thousands and thousands of seminars across the globe. And how many of those millions heard Rohn curse?

Zero. None. Nada. Zilch.

Need other examples? Well there’s Ghandi, Obama (in public), News anchors, etc—-the list goes on and on.

Get to the Point Marcus

I cite these examples because it makes no sense to me why so many speakers and writers feel like they can’t be effective without the use of curse words. Fact is, such a style does not add to one’s skills, and although it might make a few people laugh or giggle or think the orator is ‘cool’, there will also always be others who become offended and end up saying ‘enough is enough’.

Therefore, if we, as professionals in our field truly desire to touch as many people as possible, why would we risk our effectiveness over a few simple words? Is it really worth it? Can we do better? I say we can, which is why it is my hope that we can all reach our communication potential and touch as many lives as possible.

To close, may I simply refer to this famous quote, the author of which is unknown:

“When a man uses profanity to support an argument, it indicates that either the man or the argument is weak – probably both”

What are your thoughts on the subject? Join me tonight at #BWEchat on Twitter at 9:00 EST. We’ll be discussing Swearing in Social Media and I’ll be joined by Jason Falls of Social Media Examiner.

The story of Marcus Sheridan is a unique one. In 2001, he stumbled across his first business with two friends and began installing swimming pools out of the back of a beat-up pickup truck. 9 years later, and with the help of incredible innovations through inbound and content marketing, Sheridan’s company became one of the largest pool installers in the country and currently has the most visited swimming pool web site in the world.

With such success, in late 2009, Sheridan started his sales/marketing/and personal development blog—The Sales Lion, and has since grown it to one of the strongest blog communities on the web. With so much success teaching others about content and inbound marketing, Sheridan has now moved on to become a very popular keynote and business speaker, known for his boundless energy and contagious enthusiasm when on stage.

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