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Modern etiquette: Curse words could affect your career

21 Comments

"Do you eat with that mouth?"

It's a question you may have asked when coming into contact with a profanity-prone colleague or office mate. But when it comes to swearing in the business environment, what is in poor taste and how does it affect your professional image?

According to a 2012 survey by Careerfinder, foul words may not only affect your reputation, they may also affect your chance for promotion.

After surveying more than 2,000 hiring managers and 3,800 workers across industries and company sizes, 64% of employers said that they'd think less of an employee who repeatedly used curse words, and 57% said they'd be less likely to promote someone who swears in the office.

So who's using all that blue language? According to the survey, half of the respondents reported swearing in the office and the majority of those (95%) reported that they curse in front of their co-workers.

Another 51% admitted to cursing in front of their boss or supervisors. And if you think that only men are using foul language, the survey indicates that women are catching up with their male counterparts with 47% of women admitting to cursing while on the company clock.

As the day-to-day demands on today's workers continue to increase, swearing can be a way to let off some steam.

However, that doesn't mean that your office should sound like a drunken wrestling match or a scene out of Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Guinness World Records title-holder for most swearing in one film!).

Even polished professionals lose their cool on occasion, but the next time you feel a blue streak coming on, consider these tips on the long-term effects of swearing.

Lingering impressions: You are as good as your word - according to the saying - and if your words are off color, they will reflect poorly on your overall professional presence. Also, keep in mind that offices are collaborative places and we are constantly in the company of people who share different values and beliefs. If you offend someone with your language, you may harm valuable relationships with your colleagues and jeopardize the overall team dynamic. By keeping it clean, you can maintain your image as cool, collected and in charge.

Your permanent record: In many cases, swear words or off- color language can be interpreted as harassment, especially if the wording has a sexist slant to it. If you are in a management position, you have an even larger role in maintaining an environment that ensures safety and security - both physically and mentally - and cursing can create an atmosphere of disrespect and chaos. Do yourself a favor and avoid violating any human resources policy and save the swearing for the ride home.

Keeping it classy: One of the most notable aspects about cursing is that it's so common. The words and phrases are not only objectionable - they are also cliché. If you must curse, ensure your expletives are not only socially acceptable but also creative.

Off color/off brand: Again, we know there are instances where a curse word may certainly come to the surface, like when the office copier is out of toner and that "done deal" all of a sudden becomes undone. So if you are prone to cursing during stress or strike, make sure you never do so in front of a client or customer. Remember you are a brand ambassador for your company at all times and you need to protect your company's reputation along with your own.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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Of course you do not swear in front of a customer or client (I love the quaint Americanism to "curse"). but mild swearing with your team rarely offends, unless you use The Word That May Never Be Uttered - you know, the one word that still offends.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I f8c&in' cant stand @ssh*les who curse.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The whole point of bad language is to release tension by expressing intense feelings of anger, shock, fear, etc. That benefit disappears when people swear habitually without good reason. Habitual foul language is unacceptable and could even lead to sexual harassment charges. But nobody should be judged harshly for an occasional lapse, even the f-bomb, in times of stress. It's a sign of humanity.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

'The whole point of bad language is to release tension by expressing intense feelings of anger, shock, fear, etc. That benefit disappears when people swear habitually without good reason. Habitual foul language is unacceptable and could even lead to sexual harassment charges. But nobody should be judged harshly for an occasional lapse, even the f-bomb, in times of stress. It's a sign of humanity.'

Good post. I remember Billy Connolly once saying that you never read "F### off he hinted". I'd also add that people who swear in every or every other sentence do tend to make themselves look stupid and lacking in vocabulary.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Profanity is the effect of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly. The way you speak says a lot about yourself. We should always use uplifting and encouraging language that compliments others rather than puts them down, even in a sarcastic or joking manner. Talking behind other's back, gossiping, or speaking negatively is bad. People appreciate when you keep the conversation positive by holding back on offensive language.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"women are catching up with their male counterparts with 47% of women admitting to cursing while on the company clock."

Heck, ( oops, is that a curse word? ), this is not surprising, what with so many of the males they have to work with being such a-holes ( oops, is that another curse world? lol )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have been consulting for over 20 years and there is zero reason to curse in a professional environment. Besides sounding crass, the speaker sounds like they can't control themselves, which translates to can't be trusted with important roles in business.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

'I have been consulting for over 20 years and there is zero reason to curse in a professional environment.'

As Ah_so said, I love the cute Americanism 'curse'. It's really cute and childlike.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

have been consulting for over 20 years and there is zero reason to curse in a professional environment. Besides sounding crass, the speaker sounds like they can't control themselves, which translates to can't be trusted with important roles in business.

Incorrect, read Alan at 10:17 for a better answer

0 ( +2 / -2 )

LoL- look @Kramer (that X comedian) he's screwed.

Modern etiquette: Curse words could affect your career

That Kramer guy is DONE! Lest the Laugh Factory give him another shot without Kramer using "N" word several times again-

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So many jobs and types of environments. Fast food counter help = never! Oil field = who cares.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bollards! (sic)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Americans...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Profanity is the effect of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly. The way you speak says a lot about yourself.

Exactly. I don't understand why people don't see how it is a reflection of oneself and even one's upbringing. If you feel you have to use profanity it's either you lack creativity or the vocabulary to express yourself, lack discipline in your speech, or just want attention. Sometimes it's all of the above.

I have been consulting for over 20 years and there is zero reason to curse in a professional environment. Besides sounding crass, the speaker sounds like they can't control themselves, which translates to can't be trusted with important roles in business.

Correct. This goes back to discipline and self-control. Using the excuse that it's a way to release stress is a poor excuse and is just a poor attempt at justifying their use of foul language.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Novenachama and @Genjuro:

While I agree generally that profanity is not for constant use...you have to admit there is a time and place...

I mean, have you ever seen a movie in America that has been adjusted for TV? Like Die Hard or Terminator?

You get a main character yelling things like "Cheese and Rice!" instead of "Jesus Christ", or the "Go fun yourself!"..or "Oh Shoot!" "Darn!"

...it just makes whatever situation feel less intense and/or comical.

Point being, there is a time and place to use profanity to (As others said) express extreme emotions.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

'people don't see how it is a reflection of oneself and even one's upbringing. If you feel you have to use profanity it's either you lack creativity or the vocabulary to express yourself'

There is no word in the English language which can replace the f-word. It is a very useful and unique word which should be used sparingly and in the right company.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Jim

Absolutely 'kin right.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@luca I remember one historian remarked that the two most idellible stamps of the British Empire are the game of cricket and the expression "f### off".Makes you proud, doesn't it?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Kaynide So you're saying that American movies should be the basis or standard for what is acceptable in speech?

Either you've been watching too many Hollywood movies or easily impressed by them. Most likely both.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@genjuro:

Wow, way to A) put words in other people's mouths and B) look like a troll. You weren't meaning to troll right? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

In response, you're honestly saying the biggest industry with the greatest reach regarding the English language to the rest of the world isn't going to have a huge impact? Seriously?

There's a lot of money tied up in there, do you honestly think the writers aren't trying to make an effort to write scripts that appear as natural as possible?

...and are you saying, if you got into a car accident with people killed you're going to go all Ned Flanders with a "Oh gosh darnit!" ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heavens to Betsy, no-one would last long in Australia trying to reign in the profanities!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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