Swearing for pleasure and profit
If you didn't catch Stephen Fry's brilliant documentary about swearing we'd recommend catching up with it on on iPlayer - it was a treat.
The programme, which featured guests such as The Thick of It writer Armando Iannucci and actor Brian Blessed, explored the use of swearing and discussed some of its beneficial properties. For instance, Stephen Fry was able to withstand pain for four times longer when repeatedly swearing than when not doing!
This got us talking about the use of swearing in sales and sales management.
A colleague came back from a meeting with a very senior prospect last week and said he knew it was going well when the prospect started casually introducing a few F words into the conversation. Somehow that was the signal that the ice had broken.
Some managers use a bit of swearing with their immediate line reports because it helps suggest a level of closeness and trust. A CEO might swear like a sailor to his executive team, but will normally be more circumspect when addressing the massed ranks. Tony Blair was a big swearer apparently, and had a way of making people feel they were being taken into his confidence.
So, should salespeople swear? Not unless the client has firmly laid the scatological groundwork first; otherwise you're introducing a level of intimacy and presumption that might put your client on the defensive. Swearing is a good way breaking the tension and moving the relationship on, but you've got to tread f*ing carefully.