Oh #!*! Using profanity in business communications

Correspondence in the workplace should be conveyed on a level that demonstrates professionalism. Profanity is most often than not, inappropriate in business correspondence. Using profanity in business communications reflects on the organization as being unprofessional or sloppy.
Image credit: Nemo/Pixabay

The assimilation of electronic communications has changed the way we communicate. While tech provides a great many benefits, one problem is that exchanges of information have sometimes become a little more informal in nature. As text messaging and chat lingo slowly creep into our everyday language, in business communication, it can come across as unprofessional.

Profanity has followed suit and sometimes has a tendency to sneak into both text and verbal communication as well. While swearing may be acceptable in the movies, on the Internet, and in television these days, the workplace is one place where it typically still doesn't belong.

Reasons why profanity should not be used in business communications:
  • Reputation. Employees that use profanity in their business communications reflect negatively on their organization's reputation. A company known to have employees who use profanity in their exchanges will generally have negative consequences on how people perceive them. This could ultimately affect business.
  • Legal repercussions. Depending on the nature of the language and whether or not it contains lewd comments that are sexual in nature, it opens the company up to lawsuits and a host of other lawful problems. This is one situation all companies do not want to find themselves in and another reason to avoid saying anything profane.
  • Offensive. What's offensive is mostly subjective, and that being the case, it's best to always err on the side of caution to refrain from any sort of language that may offend management, employees, vendors, customers, contractors or anyone else coming in contact with the communication.
  • Violation of company rules. Chances are your organization's technology policy firmly outlines that profanity is not acceptable to be used in email. If it's not acceptable in email, it's not acceptable in any other type of correspondence either.
In today's digital work environment email, documents and even voicemail can be copied, forwarded and shared. Electronic "footprints" remain indefinitely and there's always a copy somewhere. A good rule of thumb is to consider whether or not the language or imagery used is something that you would find acceptable if it were to be published on the front page of the news, splashed over the Internet or televised on the nightly news. If the answer is "no", this is a good reason to refrain from using profanity.

If there's a sense of urgency and you want to emphasize it, there are more colorful descriptive words that can be used in lieu of profanity. Bottom line is, using profanity in business communications is usually not acceptable. There are plenty of other avenues where profanity is more or less accepted, but not in this fashion.


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