O'BRIEN: Well, son of a buck. Cursing can cost you at work

Posted: Feb. 19, 2013 7:59 am Updated: Apr. 2, 2013 9:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

We've all been there at some point. Your day isn't going well. Things begin to mount and you can't take it anymore. Maybe as a release, you'll unleash a cuss word in the middle of the office.

I've done it. I'm sure you have, too. Turns out, according to a survey done by, 51 percent or workers said they swear in the office. Of those, 95 percent say they have cursed in front of their co-workers and 51 percent have done so in front of their boss.

Sometimes there's nothing better than firing out a torrent of curse words. It's a great stress reliever. For whatever reason, there's something liberating about just letting the cuss words flow. If you really want to have some cussing fun, check out the song "Cusswords" by 1980s rapper Too $hort and memorize the words.

The key is where you fire off your stream of obscenities. Instead of letting loose in the middle of the office, maybe go to your car for a little time out. Or to a place where there isn't anyone around to hear the rant.

If you're the type that likes to use colorful language in the office with regularity, it could cost you. The same survey found that 64 percent of employers think less of employees who repeatedly use curse words. More than half of those bosses (57 percent) said they would be less likely to promote someone who swears in the office.

Cussing in the office makes you look like a dolt in the eyes of the bosses. Those who curse a lot are seen as being unprofessional and immature, having no control and being less intelligent than their non-cursing co-workers.

The survey found that 25 percent of bosses admitted to cussing at their workers, while 28 percent of workers admitted to cussing at their co-workers.

I'm sure we all have our workplace war stories. I've worked with some cussers in the past. A newspaper deadline can be a pretty stressful thing. I had a boss many moons again at a paper on the other side of the state who used to pound his phone and let the cuss words fly whenever the tiniest thing went wrong.

One of the best cursing strings I've seen happened long ago right after we got new office furniture. In a deadline frenzy, an editor decided to kick a cabinet as he cursed his way back to the back shop. He dented the cabinet and hurt his foot -- and reputation -- in one fell swoop.

According to the survey, workers my age (35-44) are the most likely to swear at work (58 percent). The survey showed that 51 percent of workers ages 25-34 and 45-54 do so, while the youngest (42 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds) and oldest (44 percent of those 55 and over) cuss the least.

Another fun survey fact is that Washington is also the cursing capital as 62 percent of D.C. workers admitted to cursing in the workplace. Not factored is in the 98.7 percent of people elsewhere who curse about what the folks in D.C. have done.

(For full disclosure, I made that last stat up. I'm sure it's closer to 99.6 percent.)

Chicago is third on the list with 58 percent of workers cursing at the workplace.

So, the next time you feel like letting one fly at work, stop and think about it. You'll be happy you did.




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