Sammy the salesman needs a fulltime censor. He’s a funny guy and you don’t want to seem stiff, but his swearing is enough to make your hair curl. Since when did the workplace become the set of Jerry Springer?
“Language has accompanied the changing culture,” says James O’Connor, the U.S.-based author of Cuss Control: The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing. “We’ve become more relaxed, less formal and certainly more casual in the way we talk to each other.”
And that’s not a good thing, says O’Connor. First and foremost, swearing makes everyone seem inarticulate and unprofessional. O’Connor also believes that it can create a negative and hostile work environment. Plus, it’s simply a lazy way of communicating, and it neglects more effective words in the English language. (For even more reasons, check out www.cusscontrol.com.)
Ready to clean up office banter? Share O’Connor’s tips to a curse-free mouth, and you’ll take a big step toward a curse-free workplace:
Address the highest common denominator. O’Connor advises you to imagine that your sweet little grandmother can always hear you.
Practice being patient. “You’ll have to work at it,” says O’Connor. Stuck in line or in traffic? Use the time to do something constructive such as planning your day.
Find alternative words. Whatever happened to words such as “rubbish” or “hogwash”? It’s time to revive them. “You want people to be kind of amused rather than offended,” says O’Connor.
Make your point politely. “You just have to get in the habit of being more tactful and being diplomatic,” says O’Connor.
Think of what you should have said. If you accidentally slip up, think of what you should have said. Over time, says O’Connor, these exercises will train you to think and act differently.
Work at it. Like any habit, swearing is difficult to kick. Get family members on board, plan what you’ll say in difficult situations and develop your own tricks to change your behavior.
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© 2003 Karen Kelly