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Project Management

We’re All Outraged! Turning Passion into Results.

Special characters (grawlix) in a speech bubble expressing outrage and cursing.

If you were to pop open any social media platform or news app right now and scroll through a couple dozen posts, you’ll easily get the feeling that everything is #%&$ falling apart. Everyone is mad at something. We now use the term “doomscrolling.” In the past we had Yellow Journalism and we are there once again. As humans we tend to get addicted to outrage and drama. says that it comes from a desire to stay informed and protect ourselves from dangerous situations.

We also have “trolling” which feeds on different types of addictive behaviors. We like to feel superior, release our own outrage, be the main character…and sometimes…we just like to cause mayhem and watch it all burn! While doomscrolling, you see things you don’t @#?&! like, and you have a nagging feeling to hop in and troll those you disagree with – even though you really don’t #%&$ need to.

Here’s the thing though… Most of what we see that’s irritating to us is just misdirected outrage. It’s all poorly focused anger and lacking true intent to further the discussion. We consume content meant to tear down rather than progress. We’ve all forgotten what true debate looks like, and instead want to @#?&! dunk on each other with one-liners and memes. #%&$, most of us don’t even fully read the clickbait articles with the headlines that upset us so much. We prefer to live in our echo-chambers of self-gratification. It seems to only be getting worse. But remember, we didn’t start the fire.

Special characters (grawlix) in speech bubbles expressing outrage and swearing.

!&%#$ People. Amirite?

Emotions are the toughest aspect of people. Our feelings don’t have to be logical for them to be experienced and affect our behavior and decisions. We all tend to want grace and forgiveness when our own emotions go off the rails, but we don’t always grant the same leeway to others. I guess we believe other people are just @#?&! idiots.

Stoicism favors the absence of emotions. I lean heavily toward stoic concepts, easily removing emotion from situations. It serves me well in my project, account, and people management roles. I certainly don’t expect others to do the same – that wouldn’t be fair to them.

Being emotionless can go too far though. I rarely show it when I get upset unless you are seriously hurting me or those I love. My wife jokes that I’ll end up like Adam Sandler’s character in Anger Management, where one day I’ll just #%&$ explode. I guess it’s natural that I politely disagree with that.

Special characters (grawlix) in speech bubbles expressing outrage and foul language.

@%#$! Positivity

Toxic positivity can be just as bad as misdirected outrage – two ends of a spectrum and neither is good. Somewhere along the line, we started learning that it was bad to have strong emotions, especially at work. You can get labeled a #%&$, @#?&!, or even an !&%#$ if you are visibly upset. Or if you’re a push-over and never disagree they might call you a %@$#!

From learning to mask emotions, we lost our backbone. We became fearful of causing other people’s anger. We have learned to avoid tough conversations, though we shouldn’t! The truth is that emotions are not always logical. We want to be able to control other people’s emotions, but we simply cannot. At the same time, we do not need to be responsible for other people’s emotions. Their emotions are for them to manage. We can only control our own reaction and response. Sometimes doing the right thing will upset someone else. That’s OK. We each must manage ourselves and accept the consequences if there are any.

I love the quote, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” Having conviction is a good thing. Standing up for what you know is right, is a great thing! Being authentic but then allowing others room to be upset is good. Radical transparency is helpful. We should all strive to stop #%&$ lying to ourselves.

Special characters (grawlix) in speech bubbles expressing anger and bad language.

Harnessing this %#@!$

When emotions run high, we start to see some foul language creep in. But there’s no need to shy away from that. Several researchers have devoted their studies to understanding the power of cursing. One group in 2020 focused on how swearing can alleviate pain. The Harvard Business Review (2018) and the BBC (2016), as well as others, have spun off articles on similar research saying that business managers can be more effective when they use bad words from time to time.

Raw emotion draws attention. People follow passionate leaders. Being completely colorless and safe will grind excitement to a halt. We want to gain the benefit of true energy in our companies and projects. Rallying the troops doesn’t come from the status quo, it comes from a place of emotion – and emotion is not always logical.

As I mentioned before, I’m largely stoic – reason and logic resonate with me. Anger often feels misdirected and counterproductive. But outrage does not have to be negative! Passion for a north star goal, is something I absolutely love! And when your team gets passionate, they will get excited, they will blurt out #%&$ productive expletives in their disagreements! And that’s OK! Disagreements are great, they should be encouraged more.

Special characters (grawlix) in speech bubbles expressing anger and rage.

When it %#@!$ Works

Benefiting from this type of passion and energy is more straightforward than it seems. We’re all just afraid of using it. But we gravitate to leaders, politicians, comedians, and friends who know how to use it well.

Misdirected outrage is where things go wrong. Like if you’re angry at a person you need to work with, or you’re faking emotion for sensationalism. If you’re outright mean to a family member. If you snap at an individual because of something else that puts you in a bad mood and has nothing to do with them. This builds contention and resentment.

Focused outrage is different. You’re upset at the current state of things. You know something can be better, and you’re passionate about getting others equally upset about it. You’ve had enough, and things are going to @#?&! change! You can live in this emotional territory and still be respectful to individuals. Mutual respect and a mutual goal are key factors in being able to debate a topic and use it as a catalyst.


I chose to write this article after a couple of back-to-back business meetings where an attendee let loose a curse word and immediately apologized for it. In both cases, the others quickly hopped in to say it was OK. In one case, they said, “You’re my type of person!” From there, the attitude of the meetings became less buttoned up and people laughed.

This is a case in point that some foul language can be productive. There was no disrespect in the use of such language and emotion, instead, it was a simple approach to bring passion into the discussion.

Even though we see misguided outrage and arguing all over the news and media, it doesn’t have to be the kind we see getting promoted by the algorithms. Instead, try to embrace constructive disagreement, allow for debate, and let a few %@$#! curse words fly to show your passion! Just do it with mutual respect for the people you are talking to.


If you are #%&$ fed up with the current trends and ready to focus some rage in the right direction, reach out to your Perficient account manager or use our contact form to begin a conversation.

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Brandon Luhring

Brandon is a consumer experience engagement manager at Perficient. His career has included running digital and marketing projects both in-house and as a consultant. He enjoys topics around creativity, innovation, design, technology, and leadership.

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