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Cursing at Work

Is It Appropriate to Confront Your Boss About Cursing?

When I asked you if you use curse words at work, the majority of you said you only do sometimes to get a point across. However, those of you on the extreme end of things — either your cursing at work is borderline excessive or you never curse in the office — were evenly split.

A career columnist at the Wall Street Journal has been dealing with reader backlash about a piece of advice she'd given to a college intern. The intern's mother wrote to the WSJ asking how her daughter should handle the potty mouths on members of upper management, and the columnist responded that confronting her work superiors would be an appropriate plan of action.

She recommends the intern write a private note to management saying, "I wanted to meet with you to make a request. When you use profanity, it makes me uncomfortable. I would appreciate it if you would stop doing so when we work together." The columnist also mentions the option of bringing the issue to someone in the company's Human Resources department.

What do you think about her advice?


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ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that depending on the situation, yes she shoul confront her boss. i used to have this boss that would curse to us on a regular basis and although it's not my thing, and it wasn't in a mean way - it was kind of annoying. one day she got mad at me and yelled and said that i spoke to her in an unprofessional way so i HAD to go to HR about it because i didn't use any bad language or un-professional tone with her and it was inappropriate in the way that she reacted to me. (she was having a bad day or something). suffice it to say that to make a long story short - she got 'let go' becuase of any number of reasons, and this was just one that was on the laundry list of her 'no-nos'
megnmac megnmac 9 years
My office is filled with swearing - by cops and attorneys and our staff. I have an awful mouth, and while I keep it under wraps and keep it polite in court and around outside attorneys and in professional settings... most of the people in my office curse around each other and swear while telling stories. And it is just the environment we have. We don't curse at each other, that would be hostile, and we don't curse to be aggressive (like "this is effing awful, fix it!"). That type of hostile situation seems bad. But, we are very casual, and I don't mind the open cursing. I do remember, though, my first lunch I went to during my first week on the job, with the boss. My top boss was horrified that one of the guys in the office was cursing while telling a story at lunch, and his assistant came to me to apologize. He didn't like swearing in front of ladies. And, while I appreciate his intent there and continue to appreciate his support of me in the office, as the only female attorney at the time I really did not want any special treatment... I was just happy to be one of the guys and the swearing hadn't even registered with me. Moms need to let their kids figure out what is appropriate in their own offices, there is no 'right' answer to whether to confront the boss, because no two bosses and no two offices are the same. Ultimately, though, if you're not comfortable in your office, complaining won't solve that problem - start a job search.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
HR. HR. Unless she's got her resume and stuff packed and ready to go have HR speak with the boss regarding their language.
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
I work in construction and every one around swears like crazy. I don't personally swear very often but i just ignore it when they do. I hear the F word about fifty times a day and Bloody Hell (he's english) which makes me laugh just because it sounds funny.
DreaAST DreaAST 9 years
Seriously, who cares. If he isn't cursing at you get over it. They are just words. This is my opinion and I know other people think otherwise, but oh well!
cageyme cageyme 9 years
I've been through this myself and there is nothing wrong with approaching your boss. The occasional @#$% is not a problem, but there are some situations where excessive cursing from your boss could be construed as creating a "hostile" workplace. If you approach your boss in a professional manner, they will appreciate your gumption. If they react in a hostile way . . . then you're better off finding another job.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
Sounds to me like the mother had a problem with it more than the daughter. Everyone has their own way of speaking and while I try not to do it anymore I think it just makes you look unprofessional. I do not care what others do. There are lots of things that make people uncomfortable everyday and we all don't write a note about it.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
Get over it... my boss curses. This morning, when he called before work he told me his day was "just f-ing lovely"... He's my boss! I don't have to work here if I have a problem with it.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
it's the shouldn't call out the boss no matter what! Unless they're harrassing you, leave it be!
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
Why did this interns MOTHER have to say something.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
Don't curse at work. It's gauche.
silly3 silly3 9 years
I have a co-worker who curses a lot while he's on the phone and while general cursing doesn't bother me (I do it myself from time to time), I am really annoyed about how he curses and how he uses it to seem younger and cooler. I think it's fine to curse in a moment of frustration or shock, but not in everyday business communications. I just asked him not to do it so much one day, but it hasn't helped at all.
syako syako 9 years
It really depends on the type/frequency and context of the profanity. I mean, is it during casual conversations when the boss just drops some f-bombs, or is he calling other employees profane names or using profanities directed toward their work? If my boss were to come in my office and tell a story about his weekend in which he used a few profanities, I wouldn't mind... on the other hand if he came in and said "steph these reports are f-ing terrible you need to do a better d*** job next time" I'd be pretty uncomfortable too!!
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