Profanity and Professionalism

by | Mar 5, 2013 | Content Marketing, Speaking

If profanity had an influence on the flight of the ball, the game of golf would be played far better than it is.” ~ Horrace G. Hutchinson

All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.” ~ Gordie Howe

Just to be clear, this is not meant to be a judgement of other writers as much as it is a discussion starter for business professionals.

I’m definitely not claiming that I never use profanity. In addition to being both a golfer and former hockey player :), I am also an ex-high school and collegiate basketball coach of more than 20 years. My assistant coaches can attest to the fact that I could cut loose with the best of them – in the coach’s office, on the phone, when scouting a game, or going out after a win (or loss) – but never in front of my players.

For me, and I realize that this is going to be different for each of us, if you are going to use profanity at all, context is the key. What environment are you in, what is your subject, who is your audience, how well do you know them, and how well do they know you? If you’re uncertain about any of these elements, I would opt for discretion and leave the profanity out of your presentation or writing.

Even as someone that uses profanity, I’m still completely put off when listening to a speaker or reading a business article in which profanity is used – as hypocritical as this may sound, it is true, and I suspect that I am not the only one that has this reaction (am I?).

Obviously for me, it is not so much the actual inclusion of the language that I find offensive, but rather, I think, the assumptions that have been made, and the disrespect that it shows to the “unknown” listener or reader.

In my opinion, the inclusion of profanity in a professional presentation (written or verbal) is simply . . .  unprofessional.

Yes, there are those that get away with it- I am still a big fan of Gary V. – and you can argue that you have a right to “free speech”, and you do – write whatever you want on your blog. You may not care whether I (or others) read your blog or follow you – another completely valid argument or response. But if you are writing for prospective clients or other business professionals, then you should at least be aware of the possible impact that your language is having on them, and in turn may be having on your business.

Am I wrong? Maybe I’m waaayy too sensitive?

Do you agree with me – I’d like to hear from you as well.

As always, your thoughtful comments and questions are welcomed and appreciated.

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Brent Carnduff is the founder/owner of Advisor Web Marketing and a search engine optimization (SEO) expert. He works with Financial Advisors across the country to help them develop a stronger online presence and increase their organic web traffic. In addition to this blog, he is a a V.I.P Contributor to Search Engine Journal, and is syndicated through Social Media Today, SteamFeed, and B2C.