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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Swearing at Work

You have a great employee who occasionally says some naughty words. Should you ask him to stop or ignore it?


IMM said...

No. You don't want your employees taking out their frustrations physically.

Anonymous said...

Great answer EHRL.

I'd add a proviso - if the Director is swearing at a colleague, then that is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with. I agree that you don't want your employees taking out their frustrations physically, but bullying can be verbal as well as physical.

PS Why, when people swear, do they only use God's name in vain? Why do they never say Allah or Vishnu?

Mike said...

"I’ve worked with lots of swearers and I never said anything to them about it. It usually took about a week before they would start apologizing to me for saying bad words, and then they’d cease it around me. Perhaps it’s my evil eye, but I think they just noticed that I don’t do that."

Why don't you simply ask someone to stop swearing if it bothers you so much? This comes across to me as needlessly passive aggressive and frankly we're all adults, right?

Besides, how do you know that your dirty looks and evils eyes aren't needlessly holding you back from the promotions you would otherwise deserve?

Suzanne Lucas said...


I was joking about the dirty looks. Trust me, when something really important bothers me, I say something.

Most of the swearing I've heard at work have been limited to expressions of disgust over something and is quite limited. If I had to sit next to someone who used the f word instead of "um" I would say something.

Michelle said...

To me, this is all about knowing your audience. I work in an evironment where people generally swear. But you should always pay attention to how people respond and behave accordingly.

The one big swearing rule I live by is never swear at someone. There is a big difference in expressing general frustration about something with swear words verses swearing at someone.

Mike said...


Ah, my mistake then. I've had too many experiences with folks who prefer to glare and stew over trivial matters rather than say something.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on the culture of the company. My 1st job out of college was with a paving company. I was the only woman who wasn't an admin. The person who trained me told me the only way the road crew would ever treat me like one of the guys was if I dropped the f-bomb a few times.

Rodolphe Mortreuil said...

Very timely indeed, the HRB website has a new blog post on cussing in a professional setting.

I'm afraid the author disagrees with your position somewhat, EHRL, but I hope you will find the read interesting.