Is Swearing Accepted At Your Workplace?

Be Careful: 81 percent of employers think cussing is unprofessional

Is Swearing Accepted  At Your Workplace?

Is Swearing Accepted At Your Workplace?

“The ones who use the vocabulary as pointless adjectives are not as offensive as they are just plain annoying. It makes me wonder if they ever read a classic or know how stupid they sound.”

Donna Crouse-Communications Coordinator for Mohave Engineering Associates

Your computer’s on the fritz, the boss is demanding more production, and you haven’t even had your morning coffee.

What the #*@?!

Oh, &>?! Hope nobody heard that.

Swearing at work comes natural for a lot of folks. It releases stress and frustration, and it gets your point across succinctly.

Choose your words carefully, though. You might p--s some people off.

Despite its increasing prevalence, there has been relatively little academic research on swearing at work and how it affects coworkers, job performance and upward mobility on the corporate ladder.

A study from CareerBuilder.com job site shows that 81 percent of employers believe swearing at work “brings an employee’s professionalism into question.”

Another study from management software company Wrike found that 66 percent of millennials swear at work, compared with 54 percent of baby boomers.

That study also found millennial women to be just as guilty as men with their potty mouth, and less bothered by profanity at work than men.

“Women do cuss, but can be more selective about when and where, and mostly to themselves,” said Donna Crouse, communications coordinator for Mohave Engineering Associates.

“The ones who use the vocabulary as pointless adjectives are not as offensive as they are just plain annoying. It makes me wonder if they ever read a classic or know how stupid they sound.”

Crouse admits to having her moments of muttering a few choice words at the computer, especially when she’s multitasking for high-volume performance.

As to the degree of her profanity, it’s never been brought to her attention, so she hopes she’s keeping it within respectful limits.

Make it count

It’s not so much the words you use that matter as much as their intent and how they’re directed. Swearing is a talent, Crouse said.

“Remember, quality over quantity. If you must do it, be selective and confident in your choices,” she advised.

Profanity is common in many work environments, almost accepted as bonding vernacular for some blue-collar occupations, with low-level workers swearing in unison at supervisors and customers.

But it can be cause for termination.

It’s usually spelled out in the employee’s handbook, or you can consult with your human resources director. Bosses may not be happy to hear your foul language, but they’re usually understanding of the need to express yourself in not-so-subtle terms.

Again, it comes down to the context and degree of your outburst. Bosses and coworkers can get over a mild meltdown, but when it disrupts focusing on the task at hand, it has to be addressed.

Brian Riley, president and chief executive officer of Mohave State Bank, said the bank’s employment policy generally prohibits “any behavior or activity that would be considered threatening.”

Joshua Pinard, warehouse supervisor at True Value, said his company has a policy against swearing, though it’s not strictly enforced.

Not everyone finds swearing acceptable or suitable, and it makes some people uncomfortable. If a worker is offended by another’s language, Pinard will step in and handle the situation with diplomacy.

“We live in a society of filler words, and the females are becoming the potty mouths of the work force,” he said. “I personally do not feel it’s professional, but I am not offended by swearing.”

What he won’t tolerate is swearing around his kids. He’ll ask people to watch their mouth in the supermarket and other places, he said.

Thick skin

As city clerk for Kingman, Sidney Muhle works the front line for the mayor and city manager, and she often gets an earful from the public, especially when they’re fired up over a particular issue.

City policy states that employees should remain calm and professional when dealing with the public and each other, but that’s easier stated than followed.

“People often come into our office seeking assistance on something and feel that they will be met with resistance, so they come ready for a fight,” Muhle said.

“We do our best to calm them down and assist them. However, there have been occasions in which I have warned people that if they do not calm down, they will be asked to leave or the police department will be contacted.”

Mule said she’s not easily offended by cussing, and she’ll be the one to handle an irate customer who starts dropping the “F” bomb.

“I have a thicker skin than most, and I would rather be the one to take it than my coworkers. However, if the language is discriminatory or is used for the specific purpose to offend, then yes, I do take offense to it.”