Monday, April 6, 2009

The F Word

I am by no means a delicate flower. But I must give off that vibe in the workplace because my boss sure seems to think I am delicate. 

I surmised this fact the other day while in a meeting with my boss, the CEO, and some other VIP's. A conversation was being had about an annoying client - someone who apparently really grated the nerves of the higher-ups - and someone in the room used some crass language to describe said annoying client. To which my boss responded that that kind of language should not be used in front of a lady. (Just in case you were confused, lady means moi). 

My boss has proven time and time again that he doesn't encourage the use of curse words while in my presence, nor does he like it when other people use them around me. He has once or twice reminded people that I'm in the room if they use the "f word" or "d word". 

What fascinates me is that he isn't the only one - our CEO also is careful with his language when around me or other young women in the office. 

I know this fact should be a pleasant one, but half of me can't help but be a little annoyed by the fact that just because I'm a lady that men can't curse around me. But then there is this other part of me that thinks it's pretty quaint and adorable that they don't want to pollute my delicate flower brain with obscenities. 

And then there's this whole other part of my brain that thinks I'm being pretty narcissistic. I mean, maybe they just want to keep the office clear of curse words in general. 

Which leads me to ask, what do you guys think about cursing in the office? An office to do or no way in hell? 

42 comments:

Kelly Jo said...

Nor am I a delicate flower. I love to swear and quite honestly, would not be upset if it were allowed at work, although I am currently unemployed. Perhaps that should be part of my interview questions to perspective employers- "So, what I'm really wondering is where does your company stand on using the F-Bomb at work?" HA!!

Lindsay McHugh said...

I always get the apology after someone has used foul language at work. Personally, it drives me up a wall. I am not for using my sailor mouth at work, but there are times when a four-letter-word may be appropriate. I hate being censored around just because I am a lady.

Casey said...

Are the "higher-ups" of an older generation? Maybe that is why they think it is so inappropriate.

And I think that office cursing is a no, but it seems to happen everywhere! I think the office is at the top of the "best places to hear fowl language" list.

Caitlin said...

My immediate boss is a lady and curses like four sailors rolled into one. Whenever she takes me to a meeting with a certain client, he always ends up censoring himself for my sake and I tell him time and again, I've heard the words before, especially sitting next to her all day.

I'm intrigued by this question of cursing in the office, though. Maybe it's because "son of a b" is heard regularly round mine. I'd say it, but being such a delicate flower and all, I gave up cursing for Lent.

kathymac said...

It depends.

The fact is, swearing just isn't professional. If I were to be really general, I'd say: people swear, it just happens. So as long as it doesn't get out of control and people feel out their environment and the people around them, a little bit of obscenity just isn't a big deal.

But it depends on the office. A year ago, I was working a full-time job in a theatre. You better believe that the _-Bombs were pretty common, and I was sometimes the offender. Now, while pursuing theatre as a freelancer, I'm in a medical office to pay the bills. And when my boss puts a "fuck" out into the universe, even when there are no patients present, it just feels wrong to me...

So, you know...there's a general courtesy about swearing that should just be followed, but I think that's the only way a blanket swearing "rule" could be applied to any office...cause they're just all too different.

Kaci said...

I totally know where you're coming from! I tend not to cuss in the office (well, during office hours anyway - a good chunk of my job is done after 5 p.m. but after 5 i'm usually too busy to talk much)... my boss has done the same thing with me quite a few times.

Funny thing is, I don't even notice the cussing until someone apologizes for it. I cuss all the time at home... people say I cuss like a sailor.

I think Casey might have a point - generational differences.

minsmyname said...

I get the same treatment by the Principal and Vice President of my company (the CEO really does not give a f-word). I was confused at first, but here I am 2 years later and they drop f-bombs galore, I noticed the courtesy wore of about 6 months ago.

L.A. Daze said...

I don't swear while at work, but my bosslady does. I have no problem with it, and i'm pretty sure she won't mind if I swear either. I just stick with the "Oh crap" or "damn it!". Not really swearing, lol!

Perhaps your boss has daughters and maybe that's why he treats you like a delicate flower? Just guessing here.

sHaa said...

hi, blog walking !
nice blog, sist :)

Amy said...

I know it's really unprofessional but at work we are constantly swearing, telling off-colour jokes, and being disgusting. I work at an ad agency so maybe it's the "creativity" at work bringing it out...I'm not sure! I used to work at a non-profit and it was such a different atmosphere. Even "oh my God" was frowned upon. "Frig" was questionable. It was so PC.

kk said...

if you deleted all the foul language used and heard at my workplace, then you'd barely have a conversation.

from the bottom of the ladder right up to the top rung, everything you can imagine is said, heard and exclaimed.

i wouldn't know how to get through a day without it, quite honestly.

Anonymous said...

I hate it. I don't curse and I find it very offensive and unnecessary when people curse in the office. It's very out of control where I work. And believe it or not, the ladies are the worst offenders.

A Dilettante's Perspective said...

That language does not belong in the office, a school or playground, or in a public setting where someone might be offended. I think all of us have become lazy and disrespectful in that matter. We're probably all guilty of it, but that is no excuse. In my own behavior, I've noticed that I sometimes act as though I'm the only person in the world, and that made me notice that everyone has that attitude. We're all responsible for every word that comes out of our mouths, and its about time we started acting that way.

Rachel Ann said...

I used to work in the maintenance shop of a manufacturing plant. I was an intern, and worked different hours all of the time to accomidate school, and was jokingly asked to post a sign outside my office so the guys would know when I was there and they could watch their mouths. It took a whole year of me insisting "seriously guys, my roommate grew up in New York, I've heard curse words you didn't even know existed" before they'd stop appologizing anytime they cursed in the office.

I ♥ NY said...

i definitely think it's a generational thing... my dad doesn't curse unless he is really really upset. whereas, i curse all the time when talking to friends. i try not to curse at work, but hey sometimes someone or something is just worthy of some choice words!

RachelSmiles said...

i am pretty much against cursing just for the sake of cursing but it's understandable if something catastrophic happens. that said. i'm surprised your boss uses the term "lady" i have been chastised for saying it because it is antiquated. scenario: a woman that my dad worked with called the house for something important and i yelled upstairs to him, "Hey dad there is a lady on the phone for you" i made sure he picked up before I hung up and she said to him, "I am no lady, I am a woman." apparently it is very anti-feminist to use the word lady. i dont really care but i think it is sweet that your boss does make a point to tell people not to swear.

Jennifer said...

I don't like swearing at work or any other time really. And I think it is very sweet that your bosses don't want foul language used around women. I think it is a sign of respect! :)

Ginger said...

If your boss says don't cuss because the lady's in the room, I am pretty sure it is not just an office thing. I think it is extremely sexist for them to use a double standard for cursing. I would support not using it at all in the office - men or women, but just because it's not that professional...

Kristi said...

I'm not going to lie. I love hearing F-bombs at work. For the most part, foul language isn't really used in my office, but I get a certain feeling of glee when I hear someone swear. I'm like a 12year old boy in that way I guess!

Mishi said...

I think really depends on the office. In most situations, I'd say it's a good idea to try to avoid using them. It makes you look really unprofessional (which is never good for a young working girl).

However, I feel like the rule is flexible. I've definitely heard a couple of "s bombs" dropped around the office - usually mumbled under someone's breath when some thing goes wrong.

Corporette said...

SUCH a good question. I remember when I was a young associate at a law firm noticing that guys treated me with kid gloves -- no swearing, trying to be gentlemen -- and it worried me because I didn't want to be left out of conversations or be seen as someone who couldn't handle swearing. (Particularly given that I swear like a sailor.) So my tactic -- this is like 5 years ago now -- was to to drop the F bomb, myself, in a casual way. It was really weird because it isn't part of my natural "professional" vocabulary, but I wanted it out of the way. And it did get it out of the way, but I'm not sure the men I worked with saw it as such (or just worried that I would do that in front of a client!). In retrospect, I wish I'd let the "delicate flower" vibe wear off after 6 months or perhaps waited until we were at happy hour to swear.

Super Careo said...

There is one person in my office who cusses constantly, and mostly when he gets off the phone with clients that he thinks are stupid or annoying. I think that it is SO distasteful and I can't understand how he has not been reprimanded for it (he's been working here for about 4 years at this point).

It's poor form and unprofessional in my opinion. Particularly if you talking about a client.

Ginger said...

Heheh it's a moot point in my office.

I'm pretty sure advertising simply cannot exist without copious amounts of swearing.

My whole office can swear like sailors and definitely do when the occasion calls for it. However we clean ourselves up for any client interactions, and also avoid swearing through email.

E-Money said...

I swear ALL THE FUCKING TIME. But I turn it off for work. I just think it's unprofessional for where I'm working now. No one swears here, and so I didn't want to be the odd one who did. Crisis averted.

Beauty Bug said...

I don't think its appropiate in most work environment, especially if it for the sake of swearing (after dealing with a frustrating client in another thing). My boss gets upset when ANYBODY swears, because their are clients and partners and associates around all the time. I mean he really discourages it, if he hears you swearing he'll make that person send and email of apology to EVERYONE that heard them say it. So swearing in the office has been greatly reduced

Fabulously Broke said...

I don't swear at the office. Unprofessional, especially for a freelancer, and besides, if I do, I use another language so that don't know what I'm saying.

"Excuse my French" turns into an actual French swear word for me.

Or "damn it!".. or some indescribable grunting noise



Fabulously Broke in the City

"Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver."

The New Black said...

I am quite partial to the 'No F-word Environment'...work or home. I am guilty of thinking it a lot though. Shit, damn and hell are my words of choice...ladylike or not!

Marcia said...

Cursing is a no-no at the office, no matter how frustated one is. I am not a curser at all nor I am offended if other people do in my presence. But to have a boss constantly say to other people to watch their language when you are in the same room? hmmm I wouldn't like that.

alyssa said...

In my office and I think this field of work in general, it's usually mostly men. Most don't talk like that all the time but they'll drop the f-bomb when someone (always someone not in the office, like an annoying client) pisses them off. It's not a big deal. I don't mind hearing it, and they don't need to pretend I have virgin ears, hah.

Normal Jane said...

I often encounter the same thing. At first it was fine, because I figured they didn't want to "tarnish" my image of them. Now it bugs me. If they're going to speak like that in management meetings when I'm not there, I find it sexist that they refrain from doing so when I'm there. Or the "Can I swear" before they do. My dad and husband are in construction--trust me, I've heard and said worse.

I've once said (professionally, of course) that I'd prefer if they didn't censor themselves for my benefit.

Ms. Salti said...

I think it totally depends on the situation. If you're among people you know it won't offend, then ok, in moderation if it's pertinent to the conversation (as in trying to get your point across). In front of a client, no way in hell!

Cass said...

I wish I could say I'm not guilty of swearing at work, but as someone who works a lot around guys it's kind of part of the game. I'll admit though for a good while they pulled the "there's a lady in our presence" card and I just rolled my eyes at them.

It might be partly generational, but I also think that the more comfortable everyone is around each other the more likely cursing is going to happen. A more relaxed atmosphere is probably more likely to let those bombs drop.

Caitlin said...

After reading all the comments and seeing the two other ad girls', I've come to the conclusion it must be more common to curse in an ad agency. I blame the insane deadlines! And even more insane AEs.

Non Sequitur Chica said...

I try not to swear at work as much as possible. I just don't think that it is appropriate. However, if I am talking to a coworker friend at lunch or out of the office, i might drop a "shit."

Moi said...

I am not for cursing in the office - I think it is just kind of crass for a work environment. I'm not sure how to feel either about guys cursing around me - when I go on a jobsite (which is obviously quite different from our office) the bad words can really fly! But they all try so hard to be on good behavior when I am there that it makes me start to feel like I dont belong there - I hate it. I'm no wimp and have said a few words in my time - I appreciate the respect but I have a career to and dont want to be seen as inferior in some way on a jobsite.

~Mary said...

I am NOT for cursing in the workplace. or any other place for that matter....
I feel it's just crude and crass...can't anyone think of a different word to explain what they want? and its just NOT professional in the workplace. I think it's NICE your boss and CEO remind people to tone it down when around you. It shows respect for you...and THAT is GREAT!

amy said...

The whole "don't curse around the ladies thing" is so dated and chauvinistic. Then again, I have a bit of a potty mouth =)

E said...

Hmmm I have to go with a no in the workplace. But I admit I have let a few slip over the years. Guess it depends on who all is around, etc. But yeah I agree in away I would take their actions as a compliment but on the other hand I it would bother me that they would talk differently if I were a guy....

renoir_girl said...

A software consultant once had to share my office, and we became pretty chummy. Once he used the "F" word and I, feeling mischievous, scolded him, "Language!" His hand flew to his mouth and he said, "Oh! I'm sorry!" Cracked me up for weeks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the next time someone VIP curses around you, you can let out a curse word before they have the time to apologize. That way they will stop seeing you as a delicate flower.

For example: VIP - "that fucking customer got on my nerves, oh I'm sor-"
You- "Fuckin' right!"

haha, I don't curse either, but you get the idea. That way they don't feel uncomfortable of impolite if they hear you curse too.

Chaotic Bliss said...

Well there is no way in hell I will curse at work but some people do it. :) I work in a laid back environment and it is 95% female--my CEO is a woman, so there is no censorship at all! By the way, it is fine by me! I love it!!

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is professional or respectful to use the F=bomb. What is wrong with all of you. Professional is not typing correctly and then the "F" word, Wearing Gucci and cussing out a customer. Grow up. Maybe YOU don't want the respect but I do. It is not necessary to use language like that in the work place. I care about respecting other people and I am glad when they respect me.