I just read the headline about Federer using profanity — so that's why I am bringing this up. Obviously Williams was spouting a fountain of profanity, and I saw one of the Russian players using it as she was losing to Oudin. Compared to Oudin who exclaimed "OK, good, all right" when a point went her way — a positive exclamation. What is happening today with this widespread abuse?

You are what you eat, what you think and what words and thoughts are in your mind and heart. And these inside truths come out during stress, like sports. These professionals should clean up their acts. I fell into the profanity trap and had to work day by day to retrain myself to not utter this filth. It can be done. I knew I was cured when I would stub a toe or bang a thumb and the word "ouch" came out instead of "&*^%^%*&".

Profanity is anti-good. Profanity is what my father said was "lowbrow" talk. To see a grown professional women bellow the exclamation "WTF?" — it's really a shame. Am I just getting older and complaining about kids today? Am I turning into the guy who watches to make sure kids don't walk on my lawn?

Oh snap!

Nick White adds:

I would love to say that I'm immune to such things but, alas, I am not.

Coarse language is usually an attempt by males to boost the perception of their machismo amongst peers. Naturally this explains much behaviour on the trading floor and locker room alike.

However, when one works amongst our quantitative French bretheren, one will hear the far more silken, "plus tard!" at an alarming frequency during the trading day. Perhaps this is a more appropriate substitute?

Left to the reader to ponder whether it's the efficacy of their models or their nature that unleashes the vitriol from within.

Tom Marks considers the importance of courtesy:

Victor wrote: "Artie always used to thank the referees for calling foot faults because of their vigilance. Do thank the rules committee."

A FSuch sage fatherly advice also applies to courts other than those used in racquet sports.

Years ago I was out at dinner with a cousin, a seasoned litigator, and his fledgling lawyer son. The father was imparting to the young man some pointers on how he should conduct himself in a courtroom. Prominently mentioned was that, win or — especially — lose, some gesture of sincere appreciation and thanks should be made to the jury after they have reached their verdict,

The reason being is, firstly, it's the proper thing to do. In fulfilling their civic responsibilities, they have just spent their considerable time listening to the brutally boring details of a situation that almost always will have no beneficial impact on their individual lives whatsoever.

But secondly, even though he would in all probability never see any of those people again, nor be professionally reliant on their opinion, there's a good chance he would see that judge in another case.

Sportsmanship counts, it also gets noticed. The jurist community is not a very large one, and word gets around. Next time around he might get the benefit of the doubt from the bench on a seemingly minor procedural point that could eventually tip the scales in his favor.

There are few things in life with less downside than good manners. No matter the field, no matter the situation.





Speak your mind

9 Comments so far

  1. curmudgeon 3256 on September 15, 2009 10:06 am

    Using swearwords is an attempt by adolescents to show how mature they are by using words that younger children would not know. Once you are a grownup, however, it seems silly to continue the practice. Personally I find the habit hard to break…

  2. Jeff Watson on September 15, 2009 10:06 am

    As no stranger to trading floors, I've found profanity to be the rule rather than the exception. Usually, there is little profanity in the trading pits themselves, as there are fines attached to cursing and fighting inside the ring. In our pit, fines for cursing cost $250, which is a full penny on 5 contracts, and that adds up. On the floor itself, outside the pit, the latest dirty jokes, disgusting behavior, name calling, strong invective, practical jokes, s_xual harassment, lowbrow behavior, and other things are an integral part of the business. Although this behavior is juvenile, it is a way of blowing off steam much as athletes do inside the locker room or dugout. Actually, I was surprised that there was not a lot more cursing and fighting as tempers can run very high when disputes arise and a $15,000 winning trade turns out to be a $15,000 losing trade and you're stuck. Anyway, I could write a whole book on the negative effects of anger on trading, but suffice it to say that a local or broker who was angry during market hours turned into an ATM machine.

  3. David on September 15, 2009 12:12 pm

    “Oh snap!” ? Now that we’re cleaning up or act, here’re some substitutions with more than 4 letters: higgledy piggledy, sockdolager, gallinipper, lickspittle, jobbernowl, flumaddidle, zwaggered, guttersnipe, skimble scamble and my favorite, flannel cakes. now that i’ve finished my piffle, i bid u all a good day.

  4. Penn State Clips on September 15, 2009 12:16 pm

    I used my fair share of profanity when I was a pit trader. Now I try really hard to use the Seinfeld line, “Newman!” instead of profanity.

    Jeff Watson: “Usually, there is little profanity in the trading pits themselves, as there are fines attached to cursing and fighting inside the ring.”

    There was massive cursing in the 10-Year Note Futures pit at the Board of Trade, but I never saw anyone get fined.

  5. Matt Johnson on September 15, 2009 12:49 pm

    Staying cool under pressure is difficult. It's one of my affirmations: "I stay cool under pressure." I say it outloud at least three times a day, along with 10 other ones…

  6. michael bonderer on September 15, 2009 1:02 pm

    Lloyd Blankfein must have scrupulously thanked the referees for ‘pointing’ out all those foot-faults.

  7. Steve Leslie on September 15, 2009 2:39 pm

    Being in the people business for 30 years, I came to the conclusion that there is rarely an upside in business to using profanity and there can be significant downside. It is easy to offend someone with profanity but impossible to offend them by not using profanity. And when you think about other than being used to emphasize a message or point It rarely can belong appropriately in a sentence. Try it sometime. Great speakers dont use profanity. In my judgement it is a weak man's use way of using filler words rather than using more appropriate language or idioms. My favorite comedians are master craft persons of the language. Men like Steve Allen, Red Skelton, Sinbad never use profanity. Women like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett are wonderful examples. I am shocked when I see a genius like Robin Williams And the late George Carlin lace a joke with profanity. I find it detracts from the overall comedy. Redd Foxx, whose lounge act was legendary for blue humor and profanity laced language, could also be genuinely funny without defaulting to this method of comedy. I curse to emphasize a major point. I find it to be a habit and habits can be unlearned just as easily as it can be learned.

  8. Steve Leslie on September 17, 2009 7:28 am

    This photo of the fictional Atticus Fitch, reminds me of famous real life lawyers.

    The great trial lawyer Gerry Spence once commented that in his entire career of 50 years before the bench, never once did he ever sustain a censure from the court. Not once was he rebuked by a judge to warrant a public castigation. He commented that he always maintained a degree of decorum that undoubtedly benefited him in his incredible string of favorable judgments by juries in civil and criminal cases.

    A master trial lawyer, the late Johnny Cochran can be more fully appreciated by his very polite and even elegant way he conducted himself during the trial of the century through his defense of OJ Simpson. While others like Marsha Clark and F. Lee Bailey were publicly bickering, he maintained his composure and was the cornerstone of the dream team. The jury noticed this and in all likelihood took this into consideration during their deliberations.

    As the art of communication becomes a dying and elusive capture, those who show a command of the language and a skill in oration become more visible and their successes more coincident

  9. manuel bravochico on September 21, 2009 12:03 pm

    Complaing about RF using profanity the .01% he's been on the court. That's funny.


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