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So swearing in the workplace got your attention!

In early December 2020 I wrote a blog on the topic of swearing and in particular swearing at work and asked if it’s acceptable or if it’s just a massive no, no! 

 

I published the blog on that December morning with no idea what was about to follow. I knew that this would be topical and provoke strong opinions but I had no idea that it would attract the engagement it did and open up such a passionate debate on LinkedIn.

This post on my LinkedIn has been viewed over 93,000 times, had 760 comments and 647 likes!

From the 760 comments the results are in. Drum roll please…

36% thought YES

46% thought NO

18% Neutral

It was a close race but the majority of people believe that swearing at work is not acceptable. 

However, from the comments and how close the results were, it is clear that swearing is becoming more acceptable within the workplace and offers some an effective means of communication.

Here is just a sample of comments from my LinkedIn post:

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“A refreshing read. I don’t necessarily think it’s a massive no no, used in humour and in the right situation. Although, context and considering the people around you is important.”

“No, swearing is a weakness of self control and discipline, our parents knew how to swear but you seldom heard it and it was not acceptable behaviour.”

We cannot change good manners with bad, swearing at any time is not required at the workplace in meetings and why should we feel the need to express frustrations with swear words; actions alleviate frustrations not swearing. 

“I think it’s ok to swear at work, problem is too many people are offended by everything and that’s the problem. If a swear word offends you you’re probably not cut out for much.”

“Good manners outweigh the need to swear and the ability to alleviate tensions and be able to solve problems without swearing is a sign of character and personality and will always be a demonstration of good manners.”

“Swearing is great, in context, shows you’re honest and human and actually have a bit of a humour.”

“It’s a definite NO NO for me. Personally I find swearing disrespectful in the workplace, and that’s coming from someone who “says it as it is”. It’s all about having standards and living by standard that we set for ourselves. A place for everything and everything in it’s place and the place for swearing is not the workplace IMO.”

“No. There are plenty of words to use in the dictionary. Imo if you have to resort to shouting and swearing then it says a lot about you and your ability to communicate as a leader should be questioned.”

“Time and place for everything, pick your moments wisely to dilute frustrations, then it’s a matter of how you say it, the use of bad language in the workplace is a delicate subject especially today when some people appear to be offended at almost anything, but it’s use can also sometimes cheer people up, on balance it’s not what you say it’s the way you say it.”

“Freedom of expression means we should allow others to speak however and whichever ways they choose to (without judgment). It is your choice as to the degree to which you are prepared to listen.”

“Swearing humanises people. It breaks down walls and barriers that can take a relationship with a client/customer into more familiar territory.”

“Swearing has a place in a relaxed workplace. Self expression or release of frustration if appropriate to surroundings, why should it be an issue?   Swearing at colleagues/staff/customers etc directly in an aggressive and derogatory manner definitely not!  ANY language, swearing or otherwise used in this manner has no place in the modern workplace.”

“Great blog 👍🏽. Hands up, I’m a potty mouth, but one with a conscience… Audience is key. I’m a producer. During my career I’ve led and worked with crews in the field I’ve never met before. A lot of the time, I’m the only woman. The swearing in this scenario isn’t ever aggressive, it’s colloquialism, jocular and it cuts the ice, which defuses the charged environment we work in.”

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So there you go. Many people seemed to find the honesty of this blog refreshing and appreciated the forum to passionately debate their opinions on the topic.  You can view the original blog here: 

https://antoinettedalehenderson.com/is-swearing-acceptable-at-work/

As stated in the original blog, here at Gravitas HQ, our take on swearing is that it’s about being appropriate and respectful to the people you’re communicating with. And so the kindest approach is to check first. 

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Photo credits: Yolande de Vries, Annie Armitage
© Antoinette Dale Henderson
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