Customer Experience News & Trends

Oh s**t! Is it OK to curse at work or with customers?

Is it ever OK to swear at work within earshot of customers, colleagues or the boss?

The short answer: It depends.

As dress codes have become more casual over the last two decades, apparently so has language, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.

More than half of workers admitted they swear in the office. And nearly all of those (95%) who admit to swearing at work do it in front of co-workers, half do it in front of their boss and just 7% do it in front of customers.

But just because other people are doing it, does that make it OK? That depends on your environment, experts say.

Watch your surroundings

Let’s make at least one hard rule: It’s really never appropriate to curse when talking to customers or clients. Even if they throw around swear words freely, it’s still better to keep a clean mouth.

As far as cursing in the office is concerned, it depends a lot on who you work with and the kind of environment that’s been established.

Here are some guidelines recommended by marketing expert Janine Popick:

  • Know your surroundings. Some workplaces are more relaxed than others. If yours is laid back — say you see more hoodies than suits — than it’s probably OK to let a curse slip out once in a while.
  • Know the audience. If you are friends or friendly with a person, and have spoken casually on many occasions, you’re likely OK speaking more freely in front of them. However, you’ll want to filter your language with new people or those you know don’t curse.
  • Know where to draw the line. Conversations should never be overly peppered with curse words. And no one should ever curse at a colleague in anger.

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