When Did Profanity Replace Standard English in Business?

I’m no prude and I drop my share of f-bombs and other choice words. Yet I’m finding when I see those words dropped to extreme in a group of supposed professionals, something inside me goes *BOING!* It’s when my old-school upbringing runs smack dab into the Millennial version of business etiquette and neither side sees any reason to compromise.

Granted, I come from a time when using the word “shit” in front of my mother would trigger an apoplectic fit, while my own daughters heard far worse come out of my mouth during their formative years.

Still, it was ingrained in me long before I joined the work force that the words you spoke reflected the character people would perceive, so it was in your best interests to keep those words clean and professional and to save profanity for your friends.

Re-evaluating the Meaning of Professionalism

These days, it seems the reverse is true, especially in groups of self-proclaimed professionals in the social media arena. At times, I feel as if there’s a contest going on to see who can drop the most f-bombs in a given period of time with an almost gameshow-esque fervor. Profanity is flung about so casually that in and of itself it says the speaker or writer really doesn’t give a {expletive deleted} what their audience thinks. In fact, they’re so in-your-face about it, I am beginning to think it’s their way of saying “I’m going to give it to you unfiltered. If you can’t handle it, you don’t deserve to bask in the golden glow of my brilliance.” 

The Words We Speak Can Either Attract or Repel

With all the talk these days about targeting your ideal client/customer, perhaps they’re just tailoring their behavior, and consequently, their language to what they perceive as their ideal client, and clearly that would not be me.

Many of these lovers of the profane are the same people who claim they make 6 or 7 figures a year. I suspect a great many are the same ones I’ve been hearing about who take their pictures in front of expensive cars or fancy homes in an effort to convince people to pay them thousands of dollars to achieve the same level of success they claim to have reached when in fact, neither the cars nor the homes belong to them.

Is this the 21st century version of pyramid schemes? Convince people to hire you to teach them to make millions when your only credentials are decent sales skills? Charge thousands of dollars to teach them how to do what you’re doing? Presenting a false front to lure other greedy but unsuspecting souls who eventually learn to do exactly the same thing, charge people thousands of dollars to teach them how to charge other people thousands for virtually nothing by hype and chutzpah? Is it any wonder I’m extremely cautious regarding the claims people make? That I have not been in a huge hurry to hire a coach or mentor? Or that I take advantage of a lot of free sessions to determine whether their claims have any substance?

As Buyers, We Must Do Our Research

Now more than ever, it’s essential that we do our due diligence, whether we’re buying a car, investing in the stock market or cyber currency, or anything else which requires a large financial investment and a certain element of risk or trust. So many people out there seem to have been taught they can make it up as they go, and let the buyer beware. 

Are they truly getting rich by using what appear to me to be both unprofessional and maybe even unethical methods? I have no idea. But you’d better believe I have turned my BS detectors up to their most sensitive settings. It may weed out a few who are legitimate, but I’m willing to lose out on a couple of opportunities that may have been in my best interests to protect myself from so many more that aren’t.

Double Standards

Granted, foul language doesn’t necessarily mean someone won’t deliver on their promises. But for those of us brought up in what my daughter likes to call the “dark ages”, it can certainly be a factor in narrowing down our list of potential business associates. As the pool for most services I seek out is rather large, I’m actually grateful for something that helps me narrow down the playing field. And I still feel embarrassed when I let a choice word or two slip in front of a client or potential client. It’s the way I was raised and of all the blocks and challenges I need to overcome, I don’t see it as something worth changing.

There is, however, a double standard at work here. Though I would be quite likely to cross a potential vendor off my list if their language of choice was profanity, it’s highly unlikely it would be a sticking point with a potential client. I typically tune it out with clients or potential clients assuming of course they manage to sprinkle in a few non-profane words every now and then for variety.

Set Your Own Standards

Maybe it has to do with my own use of profanity which occurs most often when something or someone has raised my ire. If someone is cursing at me right out of the gate, my gut reaction is they’re angry.

I’ve put far too much effort into finding my own inner peace to invite it back in with someone I’m hiring to help me release what no longer works, and develop skills which will move me closer to my goals.

Admittedly, this may be my own private pet peeve, and I may be failing to consider someone who could do me a lot of good. But the reality is if we’re not comfortable with someone we’re going to spend time being brutally honest with, we’re not going to work effectively together anyway. We all have our quirks, and this is one of mine. Fortunately, these days, there are enough people out there providing any service we could possibly need to ensure we’ll find someone who fits us to a “T”.


Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author