Whether you consider it a vice or virtue, many professionals admit to using foul language at work. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea.
If you think profanity is becoming more common on the job, you're right. Younger employees don't consider cursing as taboo as past generations. A survey by Wrike, a software company, found that 66 percent of millennials openly swear at work, compared to only 54 percent of workers over 30.
Despite changing attitudes, swearing on the job is still discouraged and can get you in trouble, as recent headlines prove. More than 80 percent of employers question the professionalism of those who curse at work, and more than half of them think foul-mouthed employees seem less intelligent, according to a CareerBuilder survey.
Here are five things to consider before you decide to drop the $%#* bomb.
Gauge the Office Culture
As a business owner, you must be clear regarding the behavior you feel is appropriate. In some corporate environments, no one may blush at a well-placed expletive. In others, it may be viewed as poor judgment or a lack of self-control. In your business, you are setting the example for those around you, especially new hires, interns and others just starting their careers.
Timing is Everything
Even those who admit to occasionally swearing on the job hold their tongue in front of certain audiences. While 80 percent of employees swear freely in front of their peers, only 30 percent would utter salty words in front of the CEO or another high-level executive, according to Wrike's study. Only two percent said they used foul language in front of clients. The takeaway: most employees understand the value of discretion and hold their tongue accordingly.
You Lose Your Power When You Lose Control
While foul-mouthed tirades may work for certain celebrity chefs, the majority of professionals would jeopardize their reputation with the same attitude. No doubt business and life can be challenging, but how you choose to react has a direct impact on how others view you. Someone who can maintain their composure in the worst of times is seen as a good example of demonstrating grace under pressure.
Bad Language Often Comes With a Price
Words are revealing, and using foul language can put people at a disadvantage. More than half of the employers surveyed by CareerBuilder would be less likely to promote someone who swears at work. Sixty-eight percent felt that swearing at work demonstrated a lack of maturity. There are always those who will find bad language objectionable, and whether they speak up or not, it can disrupt workplace harmony.
There's an Upside to Cursing
Research has found strategic swearing actually produces benefits in terms of bonding with others, boosting morale and lowering stress. The occasional curse word can also demonstrate passion. However, some studies show that too much swearing has the opposite effect, reflecting poorly on the speaker and putting others off. If you do choose colorful speech, be discreet.
Cursing at the jammed office copier or smashing your thumb in a drawer may be less offensive than a verbal attack on a colleague. Never swear in front of customers, children, or your boss--"heck," just skip it completely! Despite the shift in views on using profanity, you can't go wrong by keeping your language clean.