Workplace: When WTF Might be Okay at Work

Language at WorkSocial norms are changing. The rules of what is and is not permissible at work might be relaxing, Cursing has been in the news a lot lately. If you believe the hype it seems like everyone is doing it, from mailroom clerks to CEOs. But does that give you license to spit some profanity across the boardroom at your next meeting?

Let’s take a look at some real world examples…

We should start with a less than “real world” example and assume that a lot of you out there believe life imitates “art.” The movie “Wolf of Wall Street” reportedly topped all the competition, with characters dropping more than 500 f-bombs in about 2 hours. For those counting at home, that’s 250 an hour, which comes down to about 4 every minute.

Does that sound excessive to you? Maybe not. Because the air in the corporate office really is getting bluer. Most people admit they curse often in public, and a strong majority say that professionals are using crasser language now than twenty years ago.

We also have some fairly standout examples. T-Mobile CEO John Legere is well-known to work in four-letter phrases, and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz famously “dropkicked” an f-bomb in a company meeting. There are countless other examples. Just spend five minutes on Twitter.

So, does that mean cursing at work is cool? Not necessarily. Even though most people admit to doing it, another survey revealed that the majority of people “think less of a coworker” who regularly uses profanity.

Double standard? Sure, welcome to public relations.

But no matter where you land in this debate, the most important rule to remember is this: You may not know the line until you cross it, and by then it will be too late. So, the next time you are in a boardroom receiving some swear-worthy news, you may be better off biting your tongue and let Jim from sales deal with the blowback of loose language.


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