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Watch out! Leaders, are you offensive in your language?

Bad Language

I am sitting in the airport while I type this post and next to me is a lady cursing up a storm  on her cell phone. It’s bad enough that people feel they have to talk loud enough for people two terminals away to hear, but the language on top of it is too much for me to bear. Is it offensive to me? Yes! Would it be offensive to you, maybe not. But whether it is or not most decent people would realize they ought to take it elsewhere. Of course I have the option of leaving, but instead I have decided to turn my iPod on with ear buds fully inserted as I type away.

I got to thinking about how a leader’s influence, especially the kind of leaders we talk about on this blog, can be diminished through coarse language. I have known a number of leaders who have thought it was appropriate to spew words I have to think their mothers wouldn’t approve of including four letter words (some of the ugliest of the ugliest) and vain references to sacred deity. They do it to make a point or in some cases to vent their anger and instill fear in those they are reproving. Is it effective? Temporarily maybe, but in the long-term I have to believe trust is eroded in those whom the language is offensive to.

There was a time when the language of a sailor would have never been tolerated in public or in formal settings such as meetings, presentations and reviews. But of course that is not the case any longer. Here is a word of advice to leaders who care, please be sensitive to those who are sensitive. Do it out of decency and do it because you care.

What do you think? Does bad language from a leader erode trust? Why? Please comment below. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. Maybe I am too old fashion. Maybe not ; )

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