Face it. There have been some times at work when you just felt like saying “a few bad words”. But most often, it’s best to hold your tongue.
According to a recent study by CareerBuilder.com, 81 percent of bosses say cursing makes them question an employee’s professionalism. And 64 percent think less of an employee who swears repeatedly. Additionally, 57 percent said they would be less likely to promote someone who curses. On top of this, 71 percent of employers felt swearing shows a “lack of control,” 68 percent added that curing shows the employee has a “lack of maturity.” Lastly, 54 percent of bosses said employees who swear seem “less intelligent.”
But cursing in the workplace isn’t always frowned upon. It really depends on the industry you are in. “There are some industries where cursing is not only permitted; it’s expected. Understand the culture, particularly the office culture. It’s not always a good rule of thumb to watch superiors and mimic their behavior. Sometimes what’s acceptable for leaders and management, may not apply to you,” notes coach/consultant Nichole Wesson.
“I’ve seen sales guys who do quite well with swearing. I’ve seen keynote speakers who make it part of their ‘authentic’ brand….I tend to play it conservative, take cues from others, and still be a bit more conservative than they are,” adds career consultant Brian Carter of The Carter Group and author of career coaching oriented book is The Cowbell Principle.
If cursing is out of place in your work environment, doing so can truly hurt your career. “Cursing can be viewed as a loss in composure and the inability to manage conflict or difficult situations with ease,” Wesson points out.
If you do have a slip of the tongue, make it right. “A simple apology is the best way to recover from using a foul word in a meeting. But keep in mind, you will need to make sure you keep your language clean after or else the apology for using the language in the first place is moot,” says Wesson.
If you are tempted to swear, take a second and come up with another word. “You have to develop a monitor on your speech and word choice that allows you to substitute a word. If you are doing this by mistake a lot, you’re not self-aware enough,” advises Carter. “I would recommend meditation and journaling to help you pay more attention to your thoughts, and develop the habit of choosing your words consciously.”