Cursing in the Workplace
Yes, I am CEO of a global dental innovation company. And cursing is a part of my personality and leadership style — I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I’m not alone in this. With studies showing cursing can help an individual to better tolerate physical pain, build emotional resilience and is even a means of creative expression, it is no wonder that the average American curses 80 to 90 times a day!
But then again, as a CEO of a thriving business, I have had to find the balance in the workplace and in my approach with colleagues to make sure that even with cursing taking place daily, I maintain my professionalism. Running the show means I must lead by example, and how I behave sets the tone for the whole company. So how do I manage to balance my love of dropping an ‘f-bomb’ and still serve as a leader and role model to my employees? Here are a few guidelines I go by to keep cursing strictly professional.
1. Know Your Audience. Just like with most things in life, subjectivity is key. What may be appropriate in one context may be totally inappropriate in another. For example, while I am comfortable casually cursing in front of my employees, I would never curse in front of my rabbi. I am also sensitive to the fact that some of my employees and clients are less comfortable with cursing, and I keep that in mind when engaging with them. In my experience, erring on the side of caution when it comes to deciding whether something is offensive is always a sound rule to live by.
2. Keep it Respectful. We all have disagreements with employees and co-workers; it’s a natural part of working together. When tensions rise it is not uncommon for colorful language to slip in, but it is crucial to remember that cursing should only be used for emphasis and humor, never anger. Using derogatory curse words — directing the curses toward the individual — changes the tone of a respectful disagreement and is counterproductive to achieving workplace harmony.
3. A Zero-Tolerance Approach. While I am all for casual cursing, I have a zero-tolerance approach towards certain words or phrases that are clearly improper and cannot be tolerated in the workplace. Anything offensive to do with race, gender, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation is wrong and has no place in any part of society.
To quote the wonderful Calvin and Hobbes, “Life’s disappointments are harder to take when you don’t know any swear words.” I find cursing a great way to express myself, relieve tension and to encourage workplace camaraderie. Following these tips can help ensure that your team can fully benefit from the benefits of cursing and get your team’s creative juices flowing.