Are You Swearing Too Much at Work?

BY Jessica Helinski
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A recent survey found that 57% of respondents openly swear in the workplace. While it appears that in-​office swearing is commonplace, the survey also revealed that it still makes some employees uncomfortable. So, who is OK with profanity and who isn’t?

Fast Company reports that “of the 43% of those who do not use profane language in the workplace, 36% are bothered when others drop the F‑bomb, and 20% would consider filing an official complaint in regards to their colleagues’ language.” The following is a snapshot of who says what in the workplace:

  • 66% of millennials (aged 18–29) openly swear at work, compared to only 54% of baby boomers and generation X (aged 30 and over)
  • 60% of women do, compared with 55% of men
  • Of those who are comfortable with swearing: 80% do so in front of peers, 55% in front of a manager, and 30% in front of an executive

So, what does research say about profanity in the workplace? Surprisingly, letting loose with words can have a positive impact. According to the Fast Company article, research “suggests that swearing at work reduces stress and boosts team spirit.” Additionally, the use of profanity positively correlates with overall verbal fluency.

Swear words in the office can relieve tensions and stress, but alternately, may also make coworkers uncomfortable. Word to the wise: Swearing is pretty common in today’s workplace, but be conscious and careful about what you say and to whom you say it. Get a feel for your co-​workers’ sensitivity and office environment before letting loose.  And remember, no matter how comfortable you may feel with clients, use extra caution when talking to them!