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Can swearing be good for workplace morale?

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Swearing is an integral part of Australian culture. In the workplace, however, there’s a fine line that must be tread.

Swearing can even be a great way to boost morale and connection in the workplace, argued executive coach and author Adrian Baillargeon: “Research has demonstrated that swearing has many benefits, including establishing colleague trust.”

“However, you have to be careful. Simply dropping a swear word here and there won’t automatically bring your team closer together. How your group swears can make the difference between your team shining or sinking.”


There’s an art to swearing effectively, said Mr Baillargeon. The goal is to be authentic; that’s the only way trust is going to be built.

“If teams swear by each other and in front of each other, teams can shine. Teams that swear in this manner can drop their guard, be more authentic, and as a result, have more energy to give. Tensions ease when swearing is used to express solidarity and create a stronger bond among team members. It’s as if people in these teams say, ‘I know you, I trust you, so I can be this way with you’,” said Mr Baillargeon.

“Conversely, teams that swear about each other and behind each other’s backs deliver issues and unproductive conflict, forcing leaders to meditate more than collaborate. This type of conflict is quite costly. Globally, employees spend on average 2.1 hours of their week managing conflict, which is nearly $270 billion in hours paid that focus on fighting rather than fostering a productive environment.”

He continued: “Like any tool, how you use it makes the difference. Swearing is no different. Swear by your team, and they will shine. Swear about them, and they will sink.”

While this isn’t advice urging employees to start dropping F-bombs in team meetings, it highlights the power that swearing can have in improving trust, ultimately improving dialogue.

Dialogue is key to collaboration. Encouraging teams to be more open to conversing can generate better outcomes for the business.

“Shining teams develop with powerful conversations. Groups that talk it out work it out better and quicker. Patterns of communication are the number one indicator of team success,” explained Mr Baillargeon.

“What teams do together, not what they say, is critical to a unit’s success. This is not to say that dialogue is irrelevant; quite the opposite. Professor Pentland’s research demonstrated that the most effective form of communication was an energetic conversation, face to face, shoulders facing shoulders. Video and telephone conversations were next, with pretty much any type of written communication being relied on heavily, being the least effective in relation to team performance.”

“The bottom line — speaking and not writing — is critical to a team’s success. How vastly the interpretation and ensuing communication can be when words are written and not spoken.”

Dialogue can be achieved through connection. This is why team building and social activities are so important, as they allow people to connect beyond a professional level.

Mr Baillargeon continued: “When it comes to high-performing teams, relationships matter most. Mature relationships fuel connection and safety, allowing teams to capitalise on conflict and fostering feedback.”

“Connecting at an individual level amongst teams can create common ground, strengthening bonds … For this to happen, leaders must be intentional about making it happen. Formal connection activities such as sharing each other’s map of life, a photo from their childhood, and a story about what it was like growing up at that stage can help people find new common ground they did not know existed.”

This is no different for leadership. Taking the time to connect with a worker can drive better performance.

Mr Baillargeon concluded: “Leaders — be deliberate about making time to connect. A quick check-in before your one to one, a 10-minute agenda item, a monthly meal or a quarterly offsite. However you choose to connect, put the energy and resources into it. When you connect with your people, the dividends will pay off big time.”



Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.


When an organisation or its members can uphold their commitment to a cause or institution in the face of adversity, this is referred to as their morale. It is frequently used as a general evaluation of a group's resolve, submission, and self-control when they are charged with carrying out a superior's instructions.

Team building

The goal of team building is to instil a culture of interdependence and trust among employees so that they feel appreciated for the work they do and appreciate what others bring to the table. Although this may be implemented as a training programme, it mainly depends on morale and company culture to develop a long-lasting, maintained feeling of team.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.