I have been blogging a bit here about the strategic use of swearing (see here and here), which was originally inspired by Dan McGinn's great post at HBR on "Should Leaders Ever Swear?" This was followed by a podcast at HBR where I talked about about the same subject. NPR got wind of all this and I was interviewed for a story that aired on NPR yesterday, on All Things Considered. It is called Power Players and Profanity, and it a four minute segment that covers characters from Carol Bartz and Michelle Obama, to President's Obama and Bush, to General George Patton. Here is a little excerpt from the transcript:
"Sometimes, when you really need that wallop, you want to get out the word. But then there's other times when you don't want to give it to them 'loud and dirty,' because you embarrass them. You get them all cranked up and you've got a mess on your hands."
This comment was inspired by inspired by by psychologist Timothy Jay's work on the evolutionary value of swearing. As noted in an earlier post, he wrote: Taboo words persist because they can intensify emotional communication to a degree that nontaboo words cannot . Fuck you! immediately conveys a level of contempt unparalleled by nontaboo words; there is no way to convey Fuck You! with polite speech."
Finally, a comment about the experience with NPR; I was interviewed on Friday by Lynn Neary, on tape, and had felt as if I had not answered a couple of the questions very well. NPR's great editing made me sound much more coherent than I was, and I appreciate it.
P.S. The link to the story has both a written summary and the audio.