Re: OT: Profanity in the workplace

Subject: Re: OT: Profanity in the workplace
From: Deborah Hemstreet <dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com>
To: Kat Kuvinka <katkuvinka -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 04 Mar 2010 12:23:58 -0500

I followed this discussion with interest.

I'm not so sure this is totally off-topic. How should we as PROFESSIONALS behave in the workplace? I think this is the question. What should our language be in the workplace when we relate to our peers?

When I worked in Israel, I was stunned by how many people used F, GD, and JC as a regular part of their language. I learned that there are no cuss words in Hebrew per se. Since this is a "Holy" language, all the bad stuff was reserved for connotations in Hebrew, or blunt words taken from Arabic, English, and more recently, Russian.

As an extremely unusual Jewish person in the workplace, I found things like JC and GD extremely offensive. I did NOT make it a point to tell people this in front of others. However, if someone was in my office and said "JC" I would respond, "is Lord", and then continue with the discussion. If they said, "GD" I said "No thank you," and continued. And all other language, I would say, "Do is use this language when speaking with you?" They would answer "No" and I would respond, "Then please don't use it with me."

My colleagues treated me with the utmost of respect for my stand on these issues. Sometimes we got into discussions about my faith, but no one laughed at me.

When I returned to the US, I was astounded to discover that this same approach is considered unacceptable. Fortunately, I have not had many colleagues who talk this way... and these days, contracting from home, its a moot point. I think it comes down to respect. I am not going to try to educate my plummer in proper speech. I am not going to tell others that I think they are making poor choices in their style of communication. However, I see nothing wrong, in a professional setting for setting a standard and living by it.

As for those studies that say everyone feels better and is more comfortable when they cuss and swear at work. Just because they do does not make it right.

I am stunned that here in the US, I cannot speak out against Islam, but everyone can mock and scorn Christianity. I am stunned that people feel comfortable to say and laugh at JC and GD - but they will not say a word against the Koran or Shaira law (maybe spelled wrong but you get the idea). As professional technical communicators, whose job it is to COMMUNICATE, I am stunned that all of us are not more offended by the double standard in communication presented by political correctness.

Kat was offended by GD. I completely understand her reaction. The people listening, had they been more professional would have realized that this kind of language can stay in the locker room, and has no place in design reviews, code reviews, or business meetings. Asking for people to not use this language is not asking them to compromise on a religious or moral standard. It is asking for the same respect towards us, that they ask us to give them. How can I prove this? No one has ever demanded that anyone cuss or swear in order to get a good job done. Its not part of the job description!

Well, those are my thoughts on the issue.

/One person does make a difference..../

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