Darn Skippy

languageHow salty does the language get in your work place?  What is acceptable within your work group, by your boss, among senior managers?  Some places make allowances for the momentary need to blow off some steam with an utterance of s#*t and others not so much.  Some will tolerate faux swearing like fricking and even these words could get you called into HR or your boss’s office in certain organizations.


I went to a very interesting, helpful and funny presentation on Monday evening for a group that is associated to a church and the presenter said a** and fricking several times.  Now these don’t offend me, but I was surprised due to the setting and the professional nature of the meeting.


I guess it’s the use of that word, professional, that made me do a double take and wonder if I just heard what I thought I heard.  I’ve been meeting with this group for several weeks now and hadn’t heard anything even as salty as darn it up to this point.  Purportedly ‘professional’ means that we are above such coarse language and able to express ourselves with decorum at all times.  Bollox to that, people are people.  But there is a time and place for everything and one must be aware of varying sensibilities.


Median age within the office plays a part in the acceptance meter, with a younger skewing workforce being more accepting of a few well-placed curses and older workers turning interesting shades of red at anything slightly off-color.  I imagine that there are some offices where the air is turned blue, but these would be the rare exception and probably never visited by outside people.  My mom went to college when I was in high school and she had to do a role-play skit for a communications class which she rehearsed for the whole family.  It was a phone call and I don’t remember much else except that she ended the skit with a mild expletive and my father became incensed.  He argued that it was never appropriate in a business setting to sink to such a level.  I believe that mom kept the ending that she planned.


Fast forward a few years to my first office job where I was asked to fax something and I didn’t really have a clue how to do so at the time.  I had a false start and ‘shoot’ came softly from my lips.  Immediately from the other side of a cube wall came, ‘what did you say?’.  I got flustered; I knew that I didn’t slip up and say my usual word in such times.  It turned out s#*t was the sanctioned word in that room, with that particular group of people.  Good to know.


The point is to know your circumstances and be aware of the appropriate limits.  Your right to purge frustration doesn’t supersede someone else’s right to avoid what they consider filth.  Unless you can keep it in your own head.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


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March 1, 2013 · 9:10 am

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