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Cursing Explodes with Crisis

Pivotfarm's picture




 

Shit! God Damn it! Fuck Asshole! In that order, please, from most favorite at the top. Most of us probably out there in the real world won’t be too surprised that those are the three favorite words that come out of everyone’s mouths when they need to let off steam somehow. It’s better and safer than punching the wall of the board room and getting yourself a fine. But, it can still cost and sometimes it can cost you a lot. A new study has revealed that cursing goes up proportionally as the crisis sets in and that means CEOs have been cursing their way to the top any which way they can for over five years now.

Bloomberg carried out a study and it has just been published. It covers conference calls from 2004 to 2014 and it analyzes how American CEOs speak and what words they use. By looking at the graph you will see that 2010 was the height of cursing for those at the top. Apparently the cursing has now waned since that peak year and the ‘economy is getting better’ (according to Bloomberg). Or rather, those companies that were analyzed are doing better because they are being kept alive and afloat by the buoyancy of the Federal Reserve and the loose money that they have had all these years. It would hardly seem that the economy is doing any better in general terms. But, they might be cutting back on their swearing because the flow of money has continued into the financial markets thanks to quantitative easing.

In the conference calls that were analyzed by Bloomberg, the overriding favorite word was ‘shit’, being used 197 times over that period. Next came ‘God damn it!’, used 34 times, followed by ‘Fuck!’ (17 times) and there were 6 ‘assholes’ that will go down somewhere in history.

Apparently, it was James Hagedorn, Chairman and CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro (Ohio) that came out tops in the league table with 16 ‘shits’, and 3 ‘fucks’ plus 1 ‘god damn it’ in 10 years, making a total of 20. Hardly a lot by anyone’s daily standards and a lot of us could probably do better than that.

It’s a little bit like the study that was published in 2012 which showed the closer we got to the financial crisis the more the people at the Fed were telling jokes and laughing at the Fed meetings than actually doing anything else. According to the reports published with the transcripts of conversations, laughter was more common as things got more worrying. Take a look at the graph below and see for yourself. The closer the crisis the more they laughed. Was that nervous laughter or was that because they were blind as to what was coming? Just one example is the August 8th 2006 meeting in which the following was said: “As the comments indicate, this is probably the most challenging time that we have had before us in my long history at the FOMC [laughter]”. Still how many of us will be surprised to see that board meetings are for doing anything but work. We all know that things are decided before the meeting actually takes place. The table is just there for show, that’s all, isn’t it? But, laughter doesn’t beat cursing, does it?

Whether you choose scatology, profanity and blasphemy or downright straight-forward sexual references it’s a taboo word in society. Usually, taboo words are watered down in public and replaced by something that everyone gets but you don’t need to say. It’s only when you are feeling right at home that you let rip with what you want. Perhaps the study doesn’t so much reveal that the CEOs are under pressure and have been since 2008, but more that they are now fully at home in their environment and so they can say and do just as they like. Well, almost. Cursing is like honking the horn of your car. It lets you express yourself, whether that be happiness or downright anger and frustration.

Just take a moment and look around the office. Who’s at the top of your office league table?


 

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Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:23 | 5004438 Voicefather
Voicefather's picture

I've started using the phrase 'dick receptacle' as in Hillary Clinton's only claim for experience in a political career was that she was periodically used as a dick receptacle for Bill Clinton.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 21:33 | 5006139 medium giraffe
medium giraffe's picture

In between copious helpings of sashimi

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:07 | 5004348 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

I suspect the conversation starts something like "Hi, first things first i'm crazy are you crazy too?"

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:59 | 5004040 medium giraffe
medium giraffe's picture

No matter how much swearing goes on, 'cunt' is still the showstopper.  It's a great word when applied correctly.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:10 | 5004363 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

I prefer adding the faux adjective 'disorderment' after the word cunt.  A description i've been using for decades and always gets good laughs.  Except from the bitch being spoken to.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:36 | 5004190 joego1
joego1's picture

It's a real sex stopper with my wife.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 15:34 | 5004815 indio007
indio007's picture

I know, she told me.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:26 | 5003873 MASTER OF UNIVERSE
MASTER OF UNIVERSE's picture

They swear because they lack the linguistic capability to come up with more descriptive words. In brief, they regress to a state of childlike behaviour and instead of sucking their thumbs they swear for shock

effect hoping that the emotion will have a desired outcome of changing behaviour. Moreover, swearing essentially signals that there is little

substantive comment left to state and this signals an end to the discourse. Swearing signifies to all that action must be taken immediately. A lack of swearing indicates that no actions are needed to

continue on as usual. Swearing in this sense indicates that one needs to be motivated to take action. Motivation is prompted by

angry outbursts and swear words that make people uncomfortable in terms of acceptable discourse in the workplace. People in suits

are out of character when they swear and hurl epithets. The prompt to change behaviour is subtle.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:39 | 5004459 Leraconteur
Leraconteur's picture

They swear because they lack the linguistic capability to come up with more descriptive words. In brief, they regress to a state of childlike behaviour and instead of sucking their thumbs they swear for shock

effect hoping that the emotion will have a desired outcome of changing behaviour. Moreover, swearing essentially signals that there is little...

 

Incorrect. I used to be one of those C-Level guys who spoke hourly with the CEO and VP's.

People are polite, quiet and mannered at those levels. Language ability is *very* high, subtle, nuanced and specific.

If the CEFRL had a level C3, these people would be assessed as speaking at that level.

No one would think things were bad if everyone kept their cool and continued with the upper middle class, SES, peer-reviewed language. It would have an air of normalcy and normalcy was NOT what was going on back then. It would not impart the dire urgency to act. They would simply think within their existing mindset, and that mindset had just disappeared and a new reality had taken its place. 

So I could say something such as "The cashflow and quarterly figures are being impacted due to a confluence of unforseen mitigating factors that are affecting our micro and macro economic outlook for the foreseeable medium term (2 qtrs to 8 qtrs) future. We will need to be very judicious with expenses and any expansionary actions need to be taken with the utmost prudence and caution at this time in this environment." Lots of wiggle, weasel words, nothing concrete. The norm.

Or, I could have said this. What I actually said to him the first week of October, 2008.

He called. Too busy. Leaving a message with one of the girls. I yell down the hall: "Tell him to fucking call me as soon as possible.""

The entire staff froze, looked at me, realised I swore (and I never do) and it got the result. He called back asap.

Polite language does not work when trillions are leaving the country every hour.

I told him:

"The phones have stopped ringing. No one is paying. We need to cut costs NOW and you and the VP's need to call your friends in the other companies TODAY to call in favours and get them to cut a check for (Pick Project Name), or we have no money for payroll in 2 weeks. I don't know nor care what you two have to do, but they won't fucking answer my calls. Credit has evaporated, my counterparts at all the other firms won't answer my calls and everyone is going into cash hoarding mode."

This was it, for real guys. This was 10 days after the Sept 18th meeting.

Businesses can die in <6 weeks when it goes pear shaped. Those of you who have not run one have no idea. I saw this happen then. Industry respect to "they are shit and we no longer talk of that company"' <<direct quote BTW.

Swearing judiciously is *extremely* useful. It imparts a concept in the fewest possible words, it expresses EXTREME urgency and intensity of emotion behind the rest of the statement.

Which this survey from Bloomberg shows. The excrement hit the fan, and the obscenities began to flow. Why? Because it was DIRE and they were expressing this.

Things were very bad, guys. Very. That's why all the screaming, yelling and swearing.

No one would think things were bad if everyone kept their cool and continued with the peer-reviewed language. It would have an air of normalcy and normalcy was NOT what was going on back then. It would not impart the dire urgency to act.

Spending hours or days convincing someone would be counterproductive.

This worked:

"Get him on the fucking phone NOW! I don't care where he is or what he is doing...".

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 17:14 | 5005307 koncaswatch
koncaswatch's picture

^  +100 Too bad your comment started with italics; a ZH snag. I am also in regular business contact with C level people. Judicious use of cursing is a useful tool. I find its use, like no other choice of words, is often the best method in expressing passion for the subject at hand.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:49 | 5003962 DRT RD
DRT RD's picture

I only swear when there are no other words in the english language that can truley describe what is meant!

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:01 | 5003766 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture

Al Sweringen and Mr.Wu prefered "Cocksuckers".

 

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 11:59 | 5003745 brown_hornet
brown_hornet's picture

Cursing/tattoo beta=.99

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 11:46 | 5003676 Cannon Fodder
Cannon Fodder's picture

This is something I've actually notice lately at lower levels, directors, VPs, etc. 10 years ago, I don't recall ever hearing people curse in a professional business setting. Now it seems to becoming more acceptable. Even interviews, the person interviewing me has curse. I just don't get it...

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 11:42 | 5003656 petaloka
petaloka's picture

That's fucked up.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:50 | 5003989 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Most people are fucking morons and don't deserve one iota of respect.

Just ask them who they respect and why, then you will know.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!