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Can Cuss Words Make You More Compassionate?

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Check out a few surprising ways cuss words can make you a more compassionate freelance writer, even if you don’t cuss.

Warning: This post contains more swearing than my usual posts. I hope you will read on, since this post has an important message for those offended by cussing.

“Damn, damn, damn!”

My dad was stunned.

There he was looking at me, his youngest daughter, in disbelief about the cuss word I repeated.

My dad told me about this situation years later and said I was about 5 years old when that happened.

And that’s probably how my awkward relationship with cuss words began.

The pendulum swings very wide when it comes to people’s attitudes about cuss words. In short, some people are offended, some cuss occasionally, and some people are totally comfortable with it.

But cuss words can make you more compassionate. Let me explain.

What does this have to do with freelance writing?

“Should I swear on my blog?” It depends. You don’t have to use cuss words while writing a book or a blog post.

You should always be mindful of the “A” word. Authenticity.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about cuss words in online writing.

Blogger Neil Patel recently wrote about the pros and cons of using cuss words in online writing.

Right now, I’m reading an online daily devotional called #F—ThisSh– ∞ An Advent Devotional (I added the dashes, for those of you who may be reading this at work).

This devotional has been praised for its focus on the “realness”, vulnerability and humanity of the Christian gospel and what it means to various people. The devotional also has a lot of critics who have called the devotional “foolishness” and blasphemous.

As I’ve said before, all freelance writers have critics

If you’re offended by cuss words, that’s fine.

This blog post probably has the most cuss words, compared to my other posts. I just don’t think it’s necessary to cuss regularly about topics such as networking, meeting deadlines and using keywords for blogs.

But freelance writers should be open to reading blogs and books that have cuss words, even if they don’t use cuss words in their own writing.

Why?

You get a glimpse into another world. A world that isn’t pretty. Sometimes people use cuss words when they’re excited. But people are more likely to use cuss words when they’re exasperated, such as when they’re angry, exhausted, grieving or feeling some other kind of despair.

Instead of telling someone to “watch your language,” we should watch our language first.

We should make sure we’re not being judgmental of someone. Also, make sure you’re not dismissing someone who is in emotional – and sometimes even physical – pain.

Cuss words are not only used for shock value. Often cuss words reveal deeply felt pain and passion.

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Freelance writers love to talk about connecting with their readers and with other freelance writers. We pride ourselves on using this specific ability to show and encourage care and compassion for people.

If you’re going to be compassionate, be prepared to be uncomfortable.

Blogger and author Jeff Goins writes more about this in an excerpt from his book “Wrecked” about how “doing good sometimes feels bad.” Anyone who works in certain industries – including education, health care, nonprofits, and religious organizations – would agree.

If you’re trying to help and relate to people, they may express their complaints, or even their gratitude, using cuss words.

Why is compassion important for freelance writers?

Your writing should connect with people. Sure, you won’t connect with everyone. But your writing should resonate with certain groups of people. All freelance writers need to understand their audiences.

Ask yourself, what are your readers’ hopes and fears?

What types of situations would cause your readers to think or say, “Damn.”?

If you hear or read cuss words, can you realize the person or people using these words may feel exasperated (tired, angry, in despair, etc.), passionate or even excited about their topic or experiences?

I hope so.

Your readers may not say so, using such words.

But all readers want to feel like they are being heard and understood — like somebody gives a damn.

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Did this post inspire and help you? Are you offended by cussing? Why or why not? What’s the best blog post, book, movie, TV show, etc. you’ve read or watched that had cuss words? Share your thoughts and tips with other writers in the comments section.

5 Replies

  1. Excellent advice! I agree authenticity is key. I think each of us should try to be more gracious allowing others to openly express their true feelings without shame. Now that is what I call freedom. 😀

    1. I agree, Barb, that we should all be more gracious to each other. I’ve seen a lot of “cuss shaming” from both ends of the spectrum. I’ve seen people who don’t cuss shunning writers/bloggers and other people who cuss. But I’ve also seen some writers and bloggers make fun of people who don’t like cussing. I think respecting each other is the most important thing we can do.

  2. Karen

    great article Maya. Authenticity is key. I think using cuss words should be used to express the extremity of passion or despair someone is feeling. It makes people take notice and realize the person feels strongly about the situation. But when cuss words are used indiscriminately and arbitrarily, it shows a lack of professionalism and education in my opinion. All you see/hear are the cuss words, so they lose their effectiveness and the sentiment behind what someone is saying is lost.

    1. Thanks, Karen! I agree and I think there’s a happy medium when it comes to cussing. I’m glad you liked my post.

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