Given its ubiquity, is it ever OK to curse at work?

Posted on: Thursday, April 18, 2013

Whether it's heard on the movies, in the street or among friends, profanity has worked its way into the typical American's lexicon. While people have their own feelings and opinions about whether they consider it appropriate in private settings, it's not unusual for the occasional curse word to be blurted out in the workplace, such as if a promising health insurance lead didn't pan out.

It begs the question, though: Is it ever OK to swear at the office? ProducersWEB contributor Jeffery Hoyle recently touched on this subject after speaking with a colleague, who asked if he had ever swore at someone at the office.

While admitting that the occasional expletive slipped out, he said that more often than not, swear words were off-limits. Nevertheless, given the frequency with which profanity is used, he wondered whether it was ever appropriate.

Based on polling data, one might think that today's employees find nothing exceptionally wrong with it. According to a poll conducted last year by Harris Interactive on behalf of employment website CareerBuilder, more than half of office workers today say they swear at the workplace. Of those who do, 95 percent said that it was in the company of co-workers and rarely when clients or senior executives were around. Just 7 percent of respondents indicated they used profanity in front of a customer.

Yet despite more people swearing than not, a considerable percentage of participants in the poll said that they didn't think highly of the practice. Eight in 10 believed that cursing was amateurish and hurt workplace morale. Additionally, three out of every four said that it suggested a lack of control, with 70 percent saying it was immature.

For these and other reasons, Hoyle noted, swearing is best left in the company of close friends in a private setting, not among co-workers and clientele in a professional environment.

Posted In: Insurance News, Marketing & Advertising

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