Ten of us were standing in a cluster at a networking conference, and it was time to do the structured interactive exercise. Each of us had 5 minutes to describe our business, target market and ask for something specific from the group. The fourth to go was Bob. Bob was well dressed, had an air of confidence and a big smile. As he began to speak there was a drastic shift in the energy of the group because within his first few sentences he used profanity 3 times and his grammar was atrocious. His appearance was just right but then he opened his mouth, and it was clear from the comments of others (after the fact) that his language had hurt his personal brand and reputation.
Language is a very powerful tool. How we use language shapes our world both internally and externally. How you deliver communication shapes the way the world sees to you. How you express yourself with your spoken or written word has the power to instantly connect you to others or turn them off as Bob had. If you think that cursing in a professional setting is harmless, think again: using foul language in business may also be harming your career.
A nationwide survey by CareerBuilder found that over half of employers (57 percent) said that they’d be less likely to give someone a promotion who swears on the job. Perhaps even more significant, a vast majority of employers (81 percent) think that when employees use profanity at work, it calls their professionalism into question. If you’re not convinced yet, here are some other reality checks for workplace swearers:
- 71% of employers believe swearing at work shows lack of control
- 68% believe it demonstrates lack of maturity
- 54% believe it makes employees look less intelligent
Personally I don’t enjoy hearing people swear in any setting, especially a business one. I know there are some who read this that may be thinking, “It’s none of someone else’s business if I swear and I’m just going to be myself.” Think of swearing in a professional setting like blowing cigarette smoke in someone’s face- someone who may not enjoy it! Just be courteous and keep the four letter words to yourself! You may be turning off potential clients you didn’t even know you had.
This is especially important for professional speakers and trainers. When I hear an f-bomb pop out of a speaker’s mouth, I cringe. Believe me, you can get creative in your language and make even more of an impact when you do so.
The good news is, speaking in a professional, yet creative manner, without any of the @*&% and *%#!, can leave a positive impression on your colleagues and clients.
What do you think?