A few weeks ago, I opened my email and it was a lot like walking into a college bar. Not in the fun times with friends kind of way but in a way that every other word was on the naughty word list. Hey, I’m a mom. I have a naughty word list, mkay.
Now this gave me a bit of pause because my inbox isn’t normally like that. I’m no verbal prude but I tend to only subscribe to things that are, well, of more value. Naturally I assumed that in my morning fog I’d somehow ended up in my spam folder. Nope. Not it. I was exactly where I thought I was. My actual for real inbox. And it wasn’t just a random thing... every single email that contained some spicy sentence enhancers was from a fellow entrepreneur looking to market their services. It’s not that I don’t want to feel like a “kick ass boss bitch,” but I really don’t expect to see that phrasing in business related emails. And that’s the most mild of terminology that was in my inbox.
Which begs the question...
When did speaking so informally become the “in” thing for entrepreneurs?
I feel like nowadays everyone is looking to be more edgy in their approach to business and while that’s all well and good, it seems totally unprofessional. I know that entrepreneurs are encouraged to be authentic but it feels like that authenticity they’re all after has turned into a slew of programs and posts and products that are labelled “kick ass.” And the last person I’m going to really want to buy something from is someone that is throwing profanity into every single thing they’re promoting. Especially when those same fresh faced entrepreneurs are trying to teach others how to achieve success.
Now I realize this opinion is not a popular one... especially for my generation but I’m a firm believer in remaining true to old fashioned business values. There is a reason that people don’t use profanity in all settings. Because while some don’t mind it, there are a lot of people that do. And not because they’re old fashioned or “goodie goodies.”
Studies have shown that while swearing in the workplace is on the rise, the majority of corporate leaders find that it lowers the credibility and authority of the person using it. In fact, many experts have voiced one thing over in the past years regarding this topic.
Excessive use of profanity implies a lack of extensive vocabulary. And while I don’t believe that every entrepreneur needs to be a vocabulary genius to be successful, I do believe it does show more authority to stretch your mind and find another word suited to achieve the emotional response intended.
After all, using profanity isn’t just to make you sound “edgy” or “cool,” it’s to illicit some form of emotional response. The problem is that when you’re using a buffet of profanity, you’re going to get some sort of response and it’s not always going to be positive. Some people won’t feel fired up or passionate about what you’re trying to get across with but instead will feel defensive or offended. The reason is simple. Swearing through out history has been associated with aggression, as in arguments, or when people are trying to establish dominance. Let’s not forget when you stub your toe. So it’s not like profanity often is relatable to a pleasant feeling.
Truthfully, by using such an emotionally provocative vernacular, you’re closing the doors to an audience that would probably appreciate you otherwise. And the last thing you want to do as a new entrepreneur is cut off any opportunities. This is why I encourage people hoping to gain authority in their field to really take into consideration their tone before typing something, before speaking. Take into consideration the words being used because while you may be absolutely fine with profanity, you don’t want to shut down a potential client that isn’t okay with being referred to as a “boss bitch.”
And if that’s not enough to convince you to drop “kick ass” and “boss bitch” from your business dialogue, then I urge you to take into consideration the amount of people that are already doing it. It’s over done, overplayed. There’s no shock value to it anymore even. It just seems inauthentic and lackadaisical. There, I said it.
Ultimately, I know what many will say about my opinion on using profanity in their entrepreneurial pursuits. “So and so does it and they’re super successful!” Yes. I completely acknowledge that there are entrepreneurs out there that have salty vocabularies and are extremely successful. But I feel like there’s a reason it’s okay for them to do that. They’ve already earned that right. They have a loyal and dedicated following that is open and accepting of that. And that’s awesome. They already have formed their authority in their niche and if they want to speak that way, awesome. That is their prerogative.
But for the fresh entrepreneurs out there, trying to make it big, hungry for success and excited for their dreams to come true, I have just one piece of advice.
Cut the crap, go the extra mile. Practice some good old fashioned business ethics and when you’ve made it big, if you still feel like that’s how you need to express yourself, go for it. Just don’t close any doors along the way over something so small. It’s easy enough to start out on the professional path using a more professional vocabulary than it is to reboot your image based off of bad language you decided to throw around to make you look edgy.
Follow Erin Shebish on Twitter : http://twitter.com/ErinShebish