About Profanity in the Workplace

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Profanity is language or behavior that is considered to be vulgar, rude or offensive. Nudity or foul language are common examples of profanity. The use of profanity in movies, books, art or radio can be highly controversial. What is offensive to someone may not be seen as offensive to someone else. Also, how offensive something is varies from person to person. Therefore, the use of profanity in everyday life, such as in the workplace, can be deemed appalling or even disrespectful to those around us.

Significance

  • Profanity in the workplace is inappropriate and unprofessional. Oftentimes, employees are unaware how their words or behaviors offend others since others may be reluctant to make their feelings known. As such, the behavior continues and more serious problems can arise. Whether intentional or not, profanity has the potential to damage others.

Effects

  • The use of profanity can result in co-workers being insulted whether it was intended or not. It can also lead to a negative or hostile working environment. Other employees may notify their supervisor of this behavior or even file a complaint with the Human Resources department. Some may take matters into their own hands, which may lead to violence. Those who use profanity when faced with frustrations or disappointment on the job tend to be viewed as lacking character or crude.

Considerations

  • When interacting with others at work, it is important to consider your audience as well as the environment. You may be inclined to engage more freely in conversations with those who are familiar to you as opposed to new or unknown workers. However, familiarity does not entitle you to speak or behave in a less than professional manner. It is especially important to present yourself in a positive manner to clients and customers that you may interact with through your employment.

Warning

  • Taken to the extreme, the use of profanity at work can cause employees to be fired or even sued. Employees exposed to inappropriate language, gestures or behaviors may file sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuits depending on the type of profanity they are being exposed to.

Prevention/Solution

  • To prevent putting yourself, your relationships or your job in jeopardy, it is best to conduct yourself in a professional manner at work. Therefore, profanity should be prohibited from the workplace. Employees should look to their supervisors to learn proper methods of interaction. Also, companies should have a strict policy against the presence of profanity in the workplace and a process of dealing with employees who disregard these regulations.

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