Do you curse in public?

I was not planning to write about it, but ran into a related blog this morning and decided to add my two cents.

Speaking and teaching engagements are often being evaluated by the audience, and the speaker/instructor eventually receives the results of this eval. Usually it ‘s a simple procedure – whoever wants fills an eval sheet and returns it. In some cases filling eval forms is really a big deal. For example, close to the end of my courses that I teach at NYU, someone from administration comes to the classroom with a sealed envelop. I ‘m expected to select a student that will handle the eval process, then I should leave the classroom for 10 min or so, the students write what they think of me, seal the envelop and the designated person drops it into a special box with a narrow slot at the top.

Over the years, after teaching hundreds of students, I got accustomed to the fact that no matter how good you are there will be always someone who will badmouth you. If the majority of evals are good, I just ignore these splashes of anger. Constructive suggestionsare always well taken.

But I never curse while speaking or teaching. IMO, this is just very unprofessional.

Here ‘s the blog of Doug McCune who honestly describes the results of his evals after presenting at a recent conference in Atlanta, GA. I have not been at this presentation, but I ‘m sure it was well done, but as Doug admits, he often uses the words fuck and shit in his casual conversations, and did the same during his presentation.

Some people in the audience got offended, and I agree with them. There is a big difference between giving a fuck in a private conversation with a peer who can return you the fuck back, and a situation when a person(s) can not respond the same way. In this case, Doug had an advantage because he was the guy at the podium, and the audience (respecting the presenter) never fucks back. The other case that I really do not like is when a corporate manager casually fucks during business meetings. His subordinates understand that if the boss fucks in public, it does not mean that they are allowed to do the same. Which is a similarly unfair situation.

The highest fucker in the IT industry is Bill Gates. Joel Spolsky in one of his blogs has written that they were judging Bill ‘s opinion about a project status by the number of times he said fuck. The less, the better.

It ‘s great that Doug has written openly about his experience, and next time I ‘ll be attending a conference where he speaks, I ‘ll sit in the audience counting fucks 🙂

But my message to you is this:

Cursing in public in not cool. Try to find other ways to impress people, especially those who paid money for the privilege of listening to you.

I am not a saint myself, and curse once in a while too. If I ran into a really bad situation while driving, I say fuck to myself and it seems to help. Here ‘s another example where saying Fuck is the only way to deal with the situation: you are carrying a grand piano to the seventh floor of a building without an elevator, and after passing the sixth floor you drop it right on your foot. I ‘m sure that there are a couple of other use cases when the word fuck helps…

I do not know how to properly end this blog, let ‘s just say

The End


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