A reader writes:
What do you think about swearing in the workplace? I realize that different workplaces have different cultures, but I feel like (in general) it should be deemed unacceptable. I don’t mind the occasional curse word here or there. In my last job, however, people were much more open about swearing. In fact, attention was even drawn to me for NOT swearing. This made me feel like I was seen as an outcast or a prude simply for not tossing a curse word out there occasionally. I’m just curious what you think about this!
Oooh, interesting question, and I bet it’s going to be a controversial one. I don’t think there’s one right answer to this, and I’d love to hear what other people think about it.
Personally, I think it depends 100% on the culture of the particular workplace. I’ve worked places where profanity flew around freely, and I’ve worked places where it would have been shocking to hear anything stronger than “crap.” It’s just a reflection of different workplace cultures and social norms.
But it’s just common courtesy for profanity-loving people to be aware that not everyone is comfortable around it, and they should be attuned to signs of discomfort — and rein their mouths in accordingly when they get those cues. And it’s also true that no office culture will be right for everyone.
Additionally, while I have the mouth of a sailor in my non-work life — an extremely offensive sailor — no one in a professional environment should make someone feel uncomfortable for not swearing. That’s F’d up.
What do others think? If you and your workplace are occasionally profane, what’s your take on how to avoid offending others? Or, if profanity bothers you, would you raise the issue in your workplace?