Recently I attended a virtual networking event that had a speaker. It was interesting, thought-provoking, and motivational. Really, that’s not bad and I think we would all be happy if we gave such a presentation, and someone said that about it. However (and you knew that there was either a ‘however’ or a ‘but’, didn’t you?) throughout the talk he kept swearing. Not real Anglo-Saxon stuff but the speaker seemed not to know the word for “Rubbish” and used a much shorter word. So, part of the ‘thought-provoking’ was me wondering “When did swearing become acceptable in an obviously business environment?”.
I began to think it was me, and that it was because I’m no longer young, because I’d noticed similar usage on LinkedIn (patently a business platform) in newsletters and blogs etc. Each time I saw these words I stopped thinking about what was being said and I became distracted by the words being used. Now, let’s be clear—I can swear (and I think you need a flat vowel to be really able to swear) but, for me, in a business environment amongst people who you may not know very well or know at all, I think it is unacceptable.
Today I was with a Group of people all aged between 20 and 30 and so I used this as an opportunity to ask them what their thoughts were about swearing in general and in a business environment. They were also accepting of swearing in a personal social situation, but not in a business environment. They also differentiated between ‘mild’ swearing and full-on, as my Mam would say, “effing and jeffing”, and also when swearing is continuous and part of everyday conversations. Again, I agreed with these points.
In a business environment I am always representing my business, my brand and I work too hard to project that in a positive, professional way to undermine it all by swearing. Of course, I could be getting it wrong, and I am sure you will let me know.
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