Cursing and HR; it’s a Good Thing
One thing I found after last year’s HRevolution was that I needed to come home, think about things, and take the time to digest all that went on. So as I mentioned yesterday, I intend to do the same in 2011; savory tidbit by savory tidbit. So what made HRevolution memorable? Here’s Tasty HRevolution morsel #1…
At the risk of begging for some push-back from one of my readers again, I’m going to tackle a topic I touched on several weeks ago when I questioned if one can be prudish/overly sensitive and work in HR.
One thing I find so incredibly refreshing at HRevolution is the honesty of the conversations, and the realness, humanity and damn straight-out passion that oozes out of every attendee and track leader. At most conferences/events, many attendees arrive having put on their
plastic work-personas for the day and the phoniness fills the air. Not so at HRevolution. People are themselves and talk is real. Damns, hells and F-bombs popped up from track leaders and session attendees alike. At the end of the day I walked into the performance management session and saw that William Tincup was planning to take the position on performance appraisals that we should “blow that shit up.” (Somehow I don’t think I could sell that topic to the conference committee as a super name for a session at our SHRM State Conference, but can I just have an Amen here?) So then when the final closing comment to the gathered assemblage of 130 people included a reference to both HR and the F-bomb, I gotta tell you it was just downright freakin’ festive.
Cursing when it’s due to an angry outburst or used as a way to belittle someone or play a power-game is most definitely uncool. But some folks would argue that cursing in any form is wrong/bad/inappropriate and should never ever ever occur at a professional event or in a workplace. But swearing can aid in connecting people and the use of what my grandma used to call ‘colorful’ language may even serve to build bridges by humanizing people.
Remember when President Obama used the word “ass” last year when talking about the gulf oil spill during an interview? He said that one of the goals he had during meetings about the crisis was to figure out “whose ass to kick.” His use of a pretty common phrase humanized him and allowed him to connect with the viewing audience (particularly my fellow residents of the gulf coast). Obviously his use of the phrase was deliberately planned and scripted but it did serve its intended purpose of forging a connection. Much like I’ve found that the liberal use of curse words at HRevolution solidifies the realness and connectedness of the community.
Authentic. Real. Human. Having candid conversations and displaying strong feelings and passions.
As George S. Patton said –
When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty. It may not sound nice to some bunch of little old ladies at an afternoon tea party, but it helps my soldiers to remember. You can’t run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn’t fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag. … As for the types of comments I make, sometimes I just, By God, get carried away with my own eloquence. ~ – from an explanation to his nephew about his profanity, quoted in “The Unknown Patton” by Charles M. Province, p. 184