Should you swear at work?

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(MoneyWatch) In a word: No. While half of employees admit they swear at work, over 80 percent of bosses said a cursing employee appears unprofessional, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Perhaps more importantly, half of the employers surveyed stated they'd be less likely to promote a swearing employee. Essentially, use bad language and you could just talk yourself out of a new title and pay raise.

Swearing is risky because you really don't know how your co-workers will perceive a certain word. The same term can seem innocuous to one person, and horribly offensive to the next. At the very least, it can make you appear insensitive to others -- even to those who aren't personally offended by off-color remarks. "Swearing reflects weak E.Q., emotional intelligence," says executive leadership coach Shannon Cassidy.

Swearing can also make you appear less intelligent overall, and unable to express what you really want to say. "Jerry Seinfeld [once] described cursing in one's act as actually being lazy," points out media consultant Phil Cooke, author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media." What do you really want to communicate? Express it using "real" words and there is less of a chance your message will get confused or lost in translation.

Finally, losing control of your language filters shows that you may be in need of some anger management training -- not exactly the image you want to portray at the office. "The minute you lose control, you've just telegraphed to your team that you've run out of real answers, and don't have a clue what to do next," says Cooke.

Now, if your office comrades are all about cursing, you might feel you need to join in. "Some organizations have a swearing culture and socially, swearing helps people establish membership and affiliation," notes Cassidy. If you do partake in potty language, do it very sparingly and "reserve it for the shock factor" says Cassidy. Or, just say what you really mean.

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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