Susan Solovic: Cursing at Work

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(KTVI) - You hear it on television, in the movies, even in Congress -- profanity is everywhere.  Even at work where it could injure others ears and careers.  Small Business Expert Susan Solovic explains.

Here's some Q & A about swearing in the workplace from Susan Solovic:

Q.  HOW COULD SWEARING IN THE WORKPLACE EFFECT YOUR CAREER?  

A.  You're right.  Most everyone lets it slip once in a while.  Career Builder survey shows over half of workers admit to letting a cuss word slip once in a while.  However, there are those who feel free to use it regularly in conversation whether socially or at work.  And it definitely can tarnish your image.  Just like bad grammar or using the word "ain't" our society is pretty lax about it, but professionally people judge you.  You don't look as professional if you mis-use words and you don't look professional if you cuss.  They add nothing to the conversation.

Q. how does it effect your reputation..?

A.  Because everyone is different.  You don't know when your co-workers or your customers are going to be offended by your language.  So it's best to clean it up.   You could lose business opportunities because people don't want to be subjected to it.  A professional speaker I know insists on using the "F" word in his speeches.  What does it add? And I've heard a significant number of people just refuse to hire him or to go to his events because it is viewed as unprofessional and bad behavior.

Q.  its more common with younger workers -- they seem nsitized to it?

A.  Actually a recent survey found that it's more prevalent with the 35-44 year old workers.  Maybe it's because at that age you don't have young children at home so you aren't as careful -- or maybe you get to a point where you're more comfortable in your career so you let if fly.

Q.  Are there areas where it's worse than others?  And what about if it's the culture in your workplace?
A.  Yes --
D.C.
Denver
chicago
LA
Boston

And there are some instances where profanity is just a part of the culture.  In those cases, it's not going to do much damage on your career, but consider this -- what if you change jobs -- is it a habit you can break.

Q.  But can it really cost you your job?
A.  Probably not your language alone.  But in many cases, here are the risk.

*  Sexual harassment  -- the language is offensive and creates a hostile and offensive work environment.

*  Bullying -- many times people use bad language when they are angry.  So being explosive or a bully could result in your being terminated.