by Teo Kueh Liang
I read with interest the TODAY’s Commentary, “Mind your F’s and S’s? Swearing in the workplace is a grey area, but some lines shouldn’t be crossed” (February 05, 2024).
Since Singapore was a British colony, it has always adopted the British-style education model. Later, after World War II, the United States has been leading as a hegemony and influencing all aspects of the world, including news and social media. Singapore is inevitably not immune in this regard.
It is not difficult to find that there are often inelegant and swearing/dirty dialogues in European and American films and dramas. Perhaps this is their traditional communication method and skills, or is it a way of expressing feelings and emotions that they do not mind?
In fact, we have also noticed that many Singaporeans, especially young people, do not care much about the communication style or the details of these “dirty words” in dialogues because most of them are influenced by Western education.
As far as the words used in a speech (regardless of whether it is refined or not, polished or not) fall into one of the general purposes: to inform, to persuade, to entertain, and to commemorate or celebrate, then it has fundamentally achieved its aims or missions.
The Orientals are generally more conservative and reserved in their communication methods, whether in daily conversations, writing, correspondence, or in the production of movies and TV series.
It can be well traced back to the traditional Chinese teachings of thousands of years ago. For example, Confucius believed that one’s speech should be cautious, accurate and responsible.
Confucius said, “when chaos arises, words are the order.” All chaos arise from the step-by-step development of careless speech. Therefore, “A gentleman cannot be careless in every word he says”. In daily life, “If you hear too much, you will be suspicious, and if you say anything else cautiously, you will be alone.”
I cannot agree more with the view of the article’s author that we need to be more positive about the words we use to communicate with others in both personal and professional settings.
In short, it is definitely a plus for expressing our feelings, emotions and thoughts in a clear, transparent, respectful, constructive and considerate manner so as to ensure no misunderstanding, confusion, suspicion, or unpleasantness will cause harm to others, especially to our loved ones, relatives and work colleagues.
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