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Who Hired Pottymouth?

Everybody's talking dirty these days. Is cursing out of control in your workplace?

This story appears in the September 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You've heard it all before: the "goddamn" printer jam, the "f-ing" fax machine, the "asshole" who took the last danish. Colorful language has always been part of the workplace, but employers and are increasingly unleashing strings of profanities reminiscent of a George Carlin show. It seems that, frankly, most people don't give a damn about what they say at work.

What's behind the surge in swearing? Some say "desk rage," the latest incarnation of Americans' apparent inability to remain calm. In a recent national survey by Scripps Howard News Service, 88 percent of respondents believed people are more likely to express anger now than ever before. "There's an escalation in rage," agrees workplace consultant Bill Gorden. "People don't know how to respectfully disagree."

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