I have never been in the Navy, or the Coast Guard for that matter, but I run a tight ship. And, in the ship that is my corporation, cursing has absolutely no place during work hours. This prohibition against cursing includes the times when we are working in the office as well as the times when we are conducting research or otherwise engaged in consulting for a client. We have had many employees who have received reprimands for using foul language at work. In addition, we have had several clients whose cursing at my employees and me (often in combination with other antics, including jumping up and down while cursing), led us to decline to perform work for them the next time they contacted us. In my opinion, cursing has no place in a professional environment, among professional people such as psychologists, attorneys, and the people we employ. I have been accused of being a prude, of being “no fun,” and of being the language police, but my opinion on this subject has remained steadfast. This policy was formalized many years ago in our policy manual, included in a section with other intolerable acts during work hours. My spouse/business partner and I may engage in cursing in our personal lives, but we have always had a zero tolerance policy for cursing at work. And, the person who does not share our view won’t have to worry; our time together will be short lived.
Professional decorum is an important part of the image of a company and this is one of the reasons for our policy against foul language. But, the tone set in environments where such language is common is also damaging beyond the corporate image – it damages employee morale. The hostility of workplaces where such language is common, and I am fortunate to have only worked in 1 such place, oppresses the staff such that there is no team spirit. Further, as a high school English teacher once said, if you have to resort to cursing, you need to improve your vocabulary. So, why are we writing this? Because we observe inappropriate and abusive behavior on the part of some of our clients from time to time. And, in a time where the Florida Bar is attempting to encourage professionalism among attorneys, it is important to remember that even such things as internal office communications practices transfer to creating professional or unprofessional environments. Further, for us, it is always important to use this “rule” as a way to train young professionals so that they understand that every action they take and every word spoken impacts their career in some way.