According to a story in the Telegraph, new research suggests what anyone who has ever worked in a high-pressure job already knew: Swearing can be good for the workplace.
Yehuda Baruch, a management professor at the University of East Anglia business school, and graduate Stuart Jenkins, set out to study bad language and its place in the work environment.
Swearing, said Prof. Baruch in a university press release, was used as "a social phenomenon to reflect solidarity and enhance group cohesiveness, or as a psychological phenomenon to release stress."
Sorry, boss, you can't fire me for dropping the F-bomb; I was merely enhancing group cohesiveness.
Prof Baruch added: “We hope that this study will serve not only to acknowledge the part that swearing plays in our work and our lives, but also to indicate that leaders sometimes need to ‘think differently’, and be open to intriguing ideas.”
The full paper-- "Swearing at Work and Permissive Leadership Culture: When Anti-Social Becomes Social and Incivility Is Acceptable"--isn't available online, but there's an abstract here. It includes this wonderful passage: "[The] paper found it necessary to use swear words (avoiding usage of the explicit form); bearing in mind the purpose of the paper, the paper hopes that this will not cause offence to the readership of the journal."
Oh, go ahead and give us the explicit form. We're #*&%@! grown-ups.
Though Suicide Is Painless...
And so last night to the Bookbinders, a funky little pub in Jericho, which is a funky neighborhood along the canal in Oxford. It was a dark and rainy night, perfect for bundling up with some beer nuts and a pint of ale. My friend Richard and I had settled in at a table in the crowded pub when he detected some tell-tale change in the atmosphere: "Ah, it's pub quiz night," he announced. "Shall we have a go?"
I don't think we have these in the States, preferring to do our drinking in private and our brain-teasing while sitting on the couch in front of "Jeopardy" or "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?"
A pub quiz is a communal exam, and quite elaborate. Some in the crowd were taking it seriously. One guy looked like he had brought a reference book. People frequently dialed up friends on their mobile phones for help. I think the prize was more beer, with entry fees going to Amnesty International.
There were five or six sections to the answer sheet that Richard and I paid a pound each for. The quizmistress read questions over the PA in such categories as Current Events, Local Knowledge, Comedy. There was a visual round, where we had to identify book titles based on just a tiny section of the cover. (We knew one must be "The DaVinci Code." Shame we picked the one that was actually "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban.") There were audio cues too, 10 snippets of music whose composer or band we had to ID. (Richard was very strong on the classical and jazz; I snagged a Beck tune. Both of us nearly threw a clot trying--and failing-- to remember who did that catchy "Duh do-do-do" song from the '80s that was used in a VW commercial. [It was Trio.])
The final round was a sort of elimination, all-or-nothing thing: Get one question wrong and you'd lose all five points. The first question was: Which televised U.S. comedy ran longer: "M*A*S*H" or "Cheers"?
Do you know? We didn't.
Declare the Pennies on Your Eyes
I was glad to witness an actual pub quiz since I'd seen this story in the Daily Mail: The U.K. government is considering taxing pub quiz winnings. I think they could have a revolt on their hands.