Power of the Potty Mouth


Other titles I considered for this article that I didn’t choose, but liked them enough to still want to list them here: “The Pragmatism of Profanity” – “The Value of Vulgarity” – “The Swagger of Swearing” – “The Cunning of Cussing”…

Cursing, cussing, swearing, profanity, vulgarity, course language, strong language, whatever you call it,  being a potty mouth is often as controversial as it is colorful. But really, what’s the big deal? For some it IS a big deal; for others, not so much. For me and my crew, it’s a day in the life. But before going any FURTHER (FYI – to substantiate my assertion below, I actually researched the best grammatical choice of using either the word “further” or “farther” in the preceding sentence), a point of clarification:

**Am I endorsing the constant use of cursing, cussing, and course language? Well, hell no of course… Like everything in life, there’s always the proverbial right “time and place for everything” right? The when and where are up to each of us based on the current situation or circumstances we find ourselves in. It’s subjective. Three questions I ask myself to assist when assessing this: 1) Where am I? 2) What’s my role? 3) Who am I with? You should be asking and answering these questions incessantly yourself to decipher your best next-steps, to get the best outcomes, for ALL of your communication choices in the moment. This is a core emotional intelligence competency that I will expand on in another post.**

What this is not is another post debating or defending the right to swear or use profanity if one chooses to or not. That’s already been done many times. See a good example here.

This piece is different because it’s about disproving the tired accusation that those who consistently curse do so because they are incapable of “higher” vocabulary. The argument has been put forth that those who curse are somehow less intelligent and/or possibly lower-functioning than non-cursers; and that doing so lessens both their message and personal credibility. (Yeah, I know, bullshit right?) This is about demonstrating the pragmatism of, and proving the capability to strategically use the occasional curse word. Let’s examine the following sentences pairs, one with and one without “course language”…

“According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s latest revision, Mr. Smith is exhibiting behaviors consistent with Antisocial Personality Disorder.”

“That dude’s one pissed off fucking nut job.”

Two different sentences. Two different delivery styles. Two different impacts. One general message. Which is more effective? Which do you prefer?

How about these two:

“She circumvented her responsibility.”

“Bitch blew off work.”

Same thing right? One “nice” way of saying something, one supposedly “crass” way of saying virtually the same thing. Each sentence I wrote was carefully planned. Each word choice was deliberate and had a purpose. The point is clear: I am equally articulate using politically correct, high-brow vocabulary, as I am using more low-brow verbiage. Furthermore, I’m equally competent choosing to use fifty-cent words, as I am comfortable choosing to use five-cent words. And because that’s true, my license to curse is a valid, and valuable addition to my communications toolbox. Both worlds ring true to me, and are useful to my purposes given my needed style of communication at any given moment. This affords me more choices (these next two lines are my personal favorites):

“My palette with which to paint and demonstrate my written dexterity, and my verbal virtuosity is large.”

“Fuck yes it is! That shit’s by design bro…”

See, properly-placed vulgarity can add value to enervated vernacular (look it up…).

The truth is, it DOES matter how things are said. It’s both WHAT and HOW you say what you say that matters most. What doesn’t matter, is how others EXPECT you to say what you say, or PREFER you to say what you say. Only YOU should decide what and how you say what you say depending on your purposes and audience. This is the thesis of this vignette. Don’t miss it.

I don’t cuss because I have to; I cuss because I choose to.

**The audience I’m most interested in reaching are those who are NOT offended by the occasional curse word or two, or three. The audience I’m most interested in reaching are those who have been around the block in life, and experienced the world in a way that doesn’t require them to get all riled-up over a person’s choice of words. The audience I’m most interested in reaching are those who recognize their own daily hypocrisy, and are transparent enough to embrace it, and rise above their occasional susceptibility to self-righteousness. The audience I’m most interested in reaching are those who focus on real, and important issues, not head-fakes or sidebar bullshit… like whether one uses profanity or not. The audience I’m most interested in reaching are real people, who don’t take themselves too seriously, and appreciate others coming from that same place and point-of-view.

But there’s a lot of stigma attached to swearing. Some assert it comes with a cost. Even today, it’s still socially frowned upon by many, in many settings, by and large. It always will be. Hypocrisy is alive and well… always will be (you know who you are). No matter how intelligently debated; no matter how cunning, some will never give cussing its appropriate street cred. It’s truly a pity despite the power the potty mouth wields. Fuck ’em I say, fuck ’em all. Don’t like it? Don’t read it. DO whatever it is that you do to contribute to the conversation.

Stay tuned-in…

Click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

Get my articles and exclusive content with science-based insights to shiFt your communication from adequate to ass-kicking!


CwT-1: Once Written


Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

Ricky Midway: What’s this?

Tom Leu: An ongoing column or essay in the format of a Q&A. I’m calling it Conversations with Tom.

Who’s asking the questions?

Ricky Midway (that’s you); the interviewer and my alter-ego. He/you represents all the voices in my head asking the tough questions.

Okay… and you (Tom Leu), are answering these questions that I am asking?

That’s right. With brutal honesty, humility, and (hopefully) humor at times.

Don’t you think this sounds kinda pretentious and weird?

To some it will. Absolutely.

But you’re doing it anyway?



Because some will think it sounds kinda pretentious and weird, and therefore get their attention, and doing so will piss them off. And because some will find it clever and compelling, and doing so will intrigue and inspire them.

Has taking this approach to writing and content creation taught you anything about yourself?

Yes, unexpectedly for me, this format really frees me up to say/(write) things that I may not say or write within the context of some of my other writings. And that’s very attractive and fun for me.

So do you think you’re a good enough writer to pull this off?

I think so. I consider myself a decent writer; though I’ve never actually written anything “noteworthy” yet. So I don’t know if that qualifies me as good or not.

Define “noteworthy.”

Unless one’s writing has been legitimately published by a reputable (and often sizeable) book or periodical publisher, it doesn’t really count, nor matter (they say)… therefore not noteworthy.

So who are “they” that get to determine what is “good’ and what is deemed “worthy?” And how does one go about getting that job?

That’s a good question… I guess it’s those people in any industry who decide what gets mass produced and what doesn’t. I’ll call them the “Keepers of the Content Contingency” or the KCC.

So only something legitimately published qualifies it as noteworthy? Don’t think I agree with that.

It seems that way, though I know a lot of exceptions exist. But not only does a writer’s work have to be legitimately published for it to really count; this published work also has to be consumed (i.e. purchased) by some pre-determined (large) number of people to validate the writing’s relative worth by financially justifying its existence. Then and only then can one be truly considered “a writer.”

Sounds stringent.

It is.

So who made up these requisite rules of writing? Members of the KCC?

(laughing) Most likely. But ironically, I’m fairly certain that whoever it was probably isn’t a “real” writer themselves.

Now that’s funny! And likely true.

It’s actually kind of sad if you think about it.

These supposed “experts” in any field are certainly not the final authority are they?

No, of course they’re not. But they are the gatekeepers to a certain extent. This is why we (the writers, artists, content creators) have to understand the relationship between creativity, contribution, and commerce. You see, only YOU (the creator) can truly decide what is “good” regarding creativity. And only OTHERS (the consumer) can truly validate what is “good” regarding contribution. And then for commerce to truly exist requires an “agreement” between YOU and OTHERS.


Thank you.

So is that what this column is about? Communication? Creativity? Contribution? And the Psychology underlying it all?

Yes, that’s a pretty good overview summary. It’s an ongoing conversation and commentary where I talk shiFt about life and the Lifestyle Initiative Training that results from embracing the many principles of personal development that exist within the Communichology™ of Pop Culture. It’s a process.

Wait, so what is Communichology™?

Very simply, it’s an approach to studying human behavior from the vantage point where communications skills and human psychology collide.


You already said that.

I did, didn’t I?

I’ll take that as a compliment.

You should. Your whole approach here sounds rather insightful, exciting and fresh.

Well, that sounds like a good ending note to this initial conversation.

It does. Guess I’ll “talk” to you soon…

**More Conversations with Tom archives.

Stay tuned-in…

Click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

Get my articles and exclusive content with science-based insights to shiFt your communication from adequate to ass-kicking!


talk shiFt™ with Tom Leu Interview


Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

“Conversations with Tom” is an interview series with Ricky Midway on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

Ricky Midway: So tell us what talk shiFt™ with Tom Leu is all about succintly, yet fully.

Tom Leu: As usual, you’re always a bit rough around the edges Mr. Midway.

RM: By now, I figured you’d expect nothing different.

TL: I don’t, so here it is: talk shift™ is Communichology™ with a Kick… (in the ass)

You know you’re gonna have to expand on that right?

Of course… This is about making the perception of improving communication skills more interesting and desirable to individuals and organizations. I say “perception” because communication often gets a bad rap because it’s a subject that few readily admit they need help with, yet most of us do. Often.. Communichology™ examines this all-important subject from the vantage point where communication skills and human psychology collide. This is a unique, and hasn’t ever been approached quite like this.

So another “improve your communication skills” training series?

No, not really. It’s much more than that. It’s deeper, wider-reaching, and more impactful.

But of course, it’s Tom Leu we’re talking to here… why would we expect anything less? Please explain.

Most communication skills trainings only focus on the what we do, and how to improve as communicators. I add in the why we do what we do in the first place by examining what I call communications transactional analysis. That’s a mouthful, but it’s really quite simple. When we know why we’re doing what we’re doing, the what to improve and how to make adjustments for better outcomes becomes more apparent and plausible. TA is form of psychological therapy. I utilize foundations of this approach to examine and improve our transactions as communicators. Our ongoing giving and taking of information in-person, online, and everywhere we are. We’re all continually engaged in communications transactions daily, both intrapersonally and interpersonally. By doing so, longer lasting, positive improvements result. It’s first about raising awareness, then about adujsting our approach for improved outcomes both personally and professionally. And who doesn’t want that?

Sounds like some rather intellectual-type shit… Explain what your concept of Communichology™ is as it relates to talk shiFt™ and your bigger-picture goals with this work.

The lofty goal of the talk shiFt™ brand and business, along with my underlying Communichology™ insights, strategies and resources is simply to improve the world’s relationships one interaction at a time. Communichology™ is a new discipline I’ve developed and term I’ve coined that studies the dynamics and outcomes from the intersection where communication skills and human psychology collide.

>> Read my Manifesto HERE.

That’s a typcial Tom Leu-style lofty-as-hell-goal.

I’m proposing this can be done by first raising awareness by creatively calling out careless and complacent communication and bad behavior in the most honest and edgy way possible. My belief is that “nice wins,” but not before I have your attention in the first place. We can’t get to “nice” sometimes without going through a bit of “not nice” first. Know what I mean?

Hell yes! Absolutely. Finally somebody taking this shit on in a new, and refreshing way.

This is different because I’m encouraging and demanding that people demonstrate improved human communication skills by first possessing a better-than-basic understanding of human psychology; both theirs and others’. It’s proved to be an effective methodolgy, and one that offers practitioners valuable social strategy advantages.

This sounds rather “collegiate” and intellectual… so why all the cussing then throughout much of your writings?

First of all, it’s not intended to be “collegiate” or intellectual necessarily, but it does comes from those places foundationally because I am a social psychologist at the core. And I’ll encourage anyone to click off and/or fuck off if they don’t like it. No offense. I call it “communo-humor” sometimes.

You’ve got no shortage of catchy catch phrases and sound bytes…

Again, it’s who I am, and how I am. I encourage people to take what you like; leave the rest.

I’ll give you credit for having the balls to put it all out there the way you do.

This is not just a vehicle for superfluous, and pointless profanity; but rather an outlet for well-placed and purposeful “language” and vocabulary that adds intended emphasis and meaning where necessary. It’s not to offend, but to commend those with the balls to call shit out and take action to improve. I speak honestly from where I come from, my experiences and education, and how I live and have lived. Read more HERE on my philosophy and purpose of the “potty mouth.”

Your ability to be an effective teacher and trainer, by bridging real issues with a real-world delivery style is refreshing. 

I appreciate that. I’ve spent years developing this work and approach… talk shiFt™ = to Challenge. Change, Grow. Evolve. Move. Modify. Adjust. Alter. I’m offering commentary, insights, and interviews that shiFt the conversation away from politically correct niceties, to productively cogent necessities.

Sounds like a cool concept, but one that is abundantly necessary as well, today more than ever. So sum it all up here in with a few pithy, final phrases.

The goal is to talk shiFt™ ongoing: To raise awareness, adjust our approaches as communicators, and insist on changing things for the better. To shift the conversation, and to shift our perspective to “see” the world differently. Because if we don’t seek different vantage points to view the world through different lenses, we’ll never be able to recognize the opportunities we all have, every day to make a positive difference. Opportunities to shift our thinking, to ultimately shift our behaviors, in the moment, for better outcomes. Change yourself; change the world… in that order.

Why wouldn’t you…? 

Exactly. Agree or disagree; just no apathy.

Stay tuned-in…

**More Conversations with Tom archives.

Stay tuned-in…

Click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

Get my articles and exclusive content with science-based insights to shiFt your communication from adequate to ass-kicking!