F-bombs, four letter words, and other profanity are popping up much more frequently in the media these days. The standards of what is acceptable — on cable, YouTube and movies – is evolving. (Profanity on “over the air” TV and radio is still regulated by the FCC. But even these restrictions are now in question following the 8-0 Supreme Court decision in favor of broadcasters who received fines from the FCC for indecency.) CommCore’s question: Are F-Bombs and other words as acceptable in the workplace or other professional environments?
Over the past few months we’ve seen a variety of aggressive public word choices – language that use to be known as cursing. Carol Bartz, former Yahoo president, feels that “four-letter words language ‘show passion and commitment.’” Donald Trump gave a speech full of profanity to a gathering of Republican women’s groups at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas. President Obama used profanity in a live media interview after the BP oil spill to convey his fervor. In contrast, companies like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Forbes have swearing policies in place so employees do not use profanity in emails and/or emails containing profanity are moved to a spam folder.
We are not prudes at CommCore, just a little more conservative in the business setting. We know that some in your audience will find such language offensive or it will make them uncomfortable. International audiences may have a different “risk tolerance” for what may be seen as a “new normal.” When trying to communicate effectively it is always best to air on the side of caution, especially when you are dealing with an unknown or unfamiliar audience.
Do you think any and all language works when communicating with your clients, customers, or staff?