Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Friday, August 26, 2011

You never know who's listening

Paul Siddoway
Usually when I hear someone swear, I'm on the highway, where it is expected. The other day, I heard it in a professional-type environment and it caught me off guard.

Not because I took it personally and was offended. It wasn't even directed at me. Besides, I used to work with teenage drug addicts and have developed a fairly thick skin.

There are just some things I don't expect to hear at work.

Cursing is becoming more and more common, and more commonly accepted. Even in the workplace. This is far from the junior high locker room where I think I first heard real people, that I knew personally, swear.

My mother-in-law is a fan of the original Star Trek, and she remembers that show being edgy for it's time. Now, it would be considered really mild, in terms of swearing.

She doesn't have time to watch much modern TV. I don't either, but the little I do catch has taught me one thing: the latest thing advertisers are doing is adding what used to be "foul language" to commercials. They used to add it to the scripts and then bleep it out, but even that is slowly going the way of the buffalo. Even the radio is letting more and more things slip by.

When they went back to 20th century Earth, Kirk told Spock, "That's simply the way they talk here. Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word."

I think that really is becoming the case.

In all of my work experience, it has always been frowned upon to swear at the work place. Especially in front of a customer. I used to be the manager of a bowling alley, and in that fine establishment of American family recreation we weren't even allowed to play music that swore. My boss, who was an avid bowler, said it tarnishes the reputation of bowling alleys everywhere. I see that.

Some would say there is no place for that kind of language ever. I understand the need to get something off your chest and use, as Spock called them, "colorful metaphors." However I would think twice about using them at the office or in advertising, not wanting to mis-represent whatever company I work for.

You never know who's listening.

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