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Office Etiquette: Oh &*#%...Did I Say That? Cursing in the Workplace

08/26/2014 05:28 pm ET | Updated Oct 26, 2014

If you find yourself peppering your language with profanity at work, it's time to clean up your act. A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 81 percent of employers have doubts about the professionalism of those who curse at work. More than half of employers surveyed believe swearing makes an employee look less intelligent. If that doesn't convince you, here are five more reasons why swearing on the job is a habit worth breaking, along with an example of when you may get a pass for using a bad word at work.

  1. Clean language makes you more promotable. More than half of employers in the CareerBuilder survey said they would be less likely to promote someone who swears on the job. Even if your boss regularly uses curse words at the office, you can't go wrong by keeping a civil tongue.
  2. It demonstrates grace under pressure. If tough situations bring out the profanity, find other ways to cope. We all face difficult circumstances at work, but stress induced swearing will likely lead your coworkers and your boss to seriously question your self-control. Profanity can negatively impact office morale, and directing it at a coworker can put a severe strain on a work relationship.
  3. Others are looking up to you. No matter what your position, you are serving as a role model for others in your office. Habitual swearing is a bad example to set in front of anyone, but especially new hires, interns, and those who are just entering the professional world. While it would be unrealistic to use the word "never" when it comes to using an occasional &%#* word, you don't want to be the one responsible for single-handedly lowering the office's standards.
  4. You are showing respect. You may think your continuous cursing is harmless, but there are most likely people in your office that simply don't want to hear your outbursts. Because this behavior is guaranteed to offend or bother at least a few of your coworkers, use this knowledge as motivation to bite your tongue. Your coworkers may not tell you they are tired of hearing your rants and tirades, but they are certainly forming an opinion of you that is less than desirable.
  5. You appear immature. Teens often use profanity as a way to fit in, or to come across as cool to their peers. Sixty-eight percent of employers surveyed believe that employees who swear demonstrate a lack of maturity. It's difficult to be taken seriously as a professional when your coworkers are labelling you as lacking self-discipline every time you spout off because something didn't go your way. Just like your mother taught you, "Use your words and play nice!"

And finally, here's one reason that may give you a pass at an occasional expletive...when you look out the window and observe someone stealing your car or you smash your finger in the elevator door a well-chosen four-letter word may actually reduce your frustration. Unfortunately, it won't make your car reappear or heal your broken index finger. If you simply must use an occasional &*%#, abide by the swearing code of ethics: bad words should be used in private and never directed at anyone else.

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