Monday, December 12, 2022
One of the most heated debates I've witnessed online ensued. Many people offered the rationale that their profanity was either a way of bonding with their audience, or of using an NLP technique known as a “pattern interrupt” (allegedly getting immediate attention and thus making communication more effective). I think most of the discussion missed Michael's most important point.
I'm amazed that almost all of the hundreds of people who vented their opinion completely failed to see the most powerful business-based argument Michael put on the table. In today's show, I'll be Captain Obvious and show what you may have missed – plus I'll give you 5 reasons why your cussing isn't making you cool, it's costing you cash.
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Think (and Speak) On These Things
What does the Scripture say about cussing? Well, first let's dispel a myth: the commandment that says we should not “take the Lord's name in vain” is not about cussing! However, that doesn't mean the Bible has nothing to say on this subject.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Then there is this instruction from the Apostle Paul:
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4)
And this verse is particularly instructive:
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians [4:29])
On March 27, my friend Michael Hyatt started a firestorm with a blog post entitled, How Much Business Is Your Profanity Costing You? One of the most heated debates I've witnessed online ensued. Many people offered the rationale that their profanity was either a way of bonding with their audience, or of using an NLP technique known as a “pattern interrupt” (allegedly getting immediate attention and thus making communication more effective). I think most of the discussion missed Michael's most important point. In his post, Michael gave these 3 reasons to cut the cussing:
1. Profanity alienates people.
2. Profanity hurts your brand.
3. Profanity doesn't work.
But the most obvious potential loss, which most people who read the article missed, was this sentence: “I don’t always feel comfortable directing my audience to do the same. It’s just not worth offending them.” In other words, your profanity might prevent Michael from recommending you to his 525,057 readers.
Another friend, Joel Comm, wrote a splendid article on this subject some time ago, about professional speakers cursing from the stage. Joel said, “If you are disrespectful of your audience, the impact of your message is going to be diminished.” I was so pleased that Michael started this public discourse on what I feel is an important subject.
I was inspired to add my own thoughts. Here are my “5 Reasons Cussing Is Costing You Cash”. None of them are “moralizing” – I covered that already in Spiritual Foundations – all are pragmatic.
1. Cussing costs you promotional opportunities from major influencers.
2. Cussing costs you personal recommendations from many more individuals. They may not be major influencers like Michael Hyatt, John Maxwell, Dave Ramsey, or Joel Comm… but if each person influences a circle of 250 people, and you have thousands in your audience… what is that costing you?
3. Constant, dramatic cussing erodes trust with most people. It's a simple logical equation for most: if you're willing to say such vile things in your professional life, what are you like on a personal basis? When the spotlight is not on you? When you're not being watched?
4. Cussing distracts people from the value of what you bring to the world. Instead of considering the purchase of your book, seminar, or training materials. the discussion becomes one about why you use the F-word so much. Is that really the kind of “pattern interrupt” you want to perform?
5. Cussing will cause some people to actively oppose the purchase or use of your books, live events, and materials. You may never know how deep this particular iceberg goes under the surface of the water.
If you are still determined that your use of profanity is “strategic” or “therapeutic” or “effective” for your audience, I urge you to consider this question: if you stopped using profanity, would anyone complain?
Do you think profanity adds anything positive to your message?
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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com
I teach thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners how to write the words that sell their products, services, and ideas.
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