Ever uttered a profanity? There a good chance you have. After all, when you hit your thumb with a hammer, exclaiming “dog gone it” just doesn’t seem to do the job. Neither does “oh shucks” when stress at work gets too much to handle, or a boss gets under your skin. Be careful, however.
Although you might feel better in the short run by shouting out !*!# at the boss, a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder revealed swearing at work can be harmful to your career and potential for advancement.
The survey found more than half of workers fessed up to having sworn at work. Of these, 95 percent replied that they have uttered expletives in front of their co-workers. Just about half of these workers also confessed to using foul language in front of their immediate boss. Most workers tone it down when talking to senior management, but still, 13 percentage replied they also swear in front of their top bosses. The numbers dropped more when it comes to interactions with customers. Only 7 percent of the workers who swear at work say they do so in front of a client or customer.
The survey also compared the prevalence of swearing in workplaces within large market areas of the U.S. Swearing appears to be most prevalent in Washington, D.C., Denver and Chicago, and least prevalent in Philadelphia. Men are more likely to swear at work than their female co-workers, but not by a big margin; 54 percent of men said they curse at work, but that percentage was closely followed by women at 47 percent.
A boss’ perception about swearing at work doesn’t come without consequence to employees who want to advance in their careers. Sixty-four percent of employers think less of an employee who repeatedly uses profanity, and 57 percent say they would be less likely to promote someone who swears at work. It makes sense. Most bosses aren’t inclined to promote someone who they think lacks professionalism, maturity or who appears less intelligent. Therefore, the lesson is clear. The next time when you are tempted to utter a swear word at work, choose your exclamations carefully. Although you might be tempted to tell someone to “shove it,” it’s best to keep that thought to yourself. As it pertains to language in the workplace, “dog gone it” or “oh shucks” aren’t such bad choices after all.
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