Cursing at Work

Modern Manners Guy's 3 rules for using colorful language at work.

Richie Frieman
2-minute read

Cursing at Work

I have a confession to make: I curse...a lot.

I admit it, I'm not proud of it, and I am trying very hard to fix it. However, sometimes dropping a colorful four-letter word is the only thing that’ll do. However, there is one caveat to this belief: It's all about timing and location.

When you are in a professional setting, there will be occasions when coworkers will annoy you, tempers will flare, you'll get into heated conversations, and you will want to rant like filthiest sailor in the seven seas. But…you can't. 

Cursing or swearing in the workplace is a part of life. And if you tell me that you work in an office where no one curses, then I would love to visit because I'm pretty sure you're lying. Or in denial.

So how do we gauge the proper expletive levels at work? Just follow these 3 easy rules:

1. Never in a meeting. When you are in a meeting with your colleagues, cursing should be off the table. Sure, you may lean to the guy next to you and whisper, "What the F is Bill talking about?" But that's only OK if the coworker is a friend and you know they’re comfortable with your language. Otherwise, cursing out loud is unacceptable in a meeting scenario. Regardless of the situation. When you curse, it shows a lack of control and professionalism. Neither of which is good.

2. It’s not always funny. The best comedians are able to utilize bad words in a way that fits the punchline beautifully. It's like how an artist adds the right touch of a certain color to accent a shadow in a painting. Was it essential? Maybe not. But when it's there, it just makes sense and you couldn’t imagine the piece without it.

However, in a professional setting, there is always one person who curses way too much and thinks they are hilarious because of it:

"So the other day, this $%# guy was in front of me, ordering a $#$% turkey sandwich and he starts &^% ordering it with all kinds of %$#@ toppings and #$%. I was like, hold the #$*@# up, my man!"

This isn’t funny, isn’t cool, and simply shows you have no class and a tiny…vocabulary.

3. Use sparingly. When we curse, we tend to do so to prove a point or emphasize one. So if you use it all the time, it loses its meaning, its power, and its emphasis. Choose your words wisely to make sure they have the maximum impact.

In the end, cursing in the office is usually a turn off. It doesn't always land the way it was meant to and some words can be downright offensive. If you have to curse, ONLY do it in private, with someone you trust who doesn't mind, or when you are by yourself and away from others. The only exception is if you spill hot coffee on yourself… because when that happens, you can't help but curse up a storm. Then, we all understand. 

Photo from Getty Images and Shutterstock