It's Difficult To Take You Seriously When You Use Language Like That

Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate

Last week, I spent 8 hours immersed in a one-day business seminar.  I was seated next to a gentleman I did not know, and throughout the day we engaged in casual conversation during the breaks.  He seemed like a very nice guy, sharp, well dressed, very personable -- and every other word out of his mouth was the “F-Word.”  The business seminar was a tremendous learning experience and I walked away with valuable and useful knowledge.  What I did not walk away with was an understanding as to why a seemingly professional person would talk to another professional person in that manner?

CursingDriverAt one time or another, we all use profanity to express anger, frustration, disappointment, or to add “emphasis” to a story.  However, I've recently been involved in some professional situations where conversations were peppered with profanity.  In the past, I've also experienced people who frequently used colorful language in the workplace.  So, when profanity is part of someone’s everyday vocabulary, do you tell that person if it bothers you?

Don't get me wrong -- I'm no lightweight.  Yet, I feel that cursing in a business-related environment is uncomfortable and inappropriate.  In addition, I find it somewhat challenging to fully appreciate what people are saying if they cannot complete a sentence without uttering the "F-Word."  I'm not too sure it's a gender thing either.  In fact, I actually think this is an equal opportunity issue.  Oh well ... I say "To Each His Own -- Live And Let Live."  I also say there is a time and place for everything.

When someone cursed in her presence, my grandmother would always declare: "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?"  Also, children of my generation were sometimes told they would get their mouths washed out with soap for using foul language.  Although I personally do not know anyone who has ever had that happen, the fear of having a bar of soap touch your lips was enough to keep most of us kids compliant.  To me, the language people choose as a means of communicating in business situations speaks volumes about their professionalism and perceived respect for others.  And, I'm just wondering -- if nobody is aware that something bothers you, why would anyone stop doing it? 

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carie shapiro

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Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Joy Daniels 02/11/2012 08:33 AM
  2. Joanna Cohlan 02/12/2012 01:26 AM
  3. Kathy Sheehan 02/12/2012 02:46 AM
  4. Joe Jackson 02/13/2012 01:13 PM
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Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Many thanks again for all of the wonderful comments!  I enjoyed reading each and every one -- and I appreciate all of you for taking the time to stop by and express your thoughts.  And, thank you to those who reblogged too!

As I mentioned in my earlier comment above, the topic seemingly hits close to home for many of us.  Consequently, the blog elicited an array of strong and cogent remarks -- and an interesting and lively conversation resulted, for sure!  I was delighted to read that so many of us agree on one thing:  Raising the bar with regards to language and communication -- especially in professional settings -- would be highly welcomed.

Feb 13, 2012 04:13 PM #187
Lehel Szucs
All Seasons Real Estate, Inc. - Covina, CA
REALTOR of choice

profanity is something I stay away from as much as I can ..... and stay away from people that use it as much as I can .... 

Feb 14, 2012 03:21 AM #188
Marsha Cash
RE/MAX Advantage - Stockbridge, GA

I don't like profanity.  Don't see the need for it.  "sugar" works for me.  Some people use it so much that they don't realize how much.  I don't like to go to movies with it either.  But especially in business, it has no place.  Particularly can't stand when I attend a class and the speaker uses profanity.  Totally unprofessional.

Feb 14, 2012 03:34 AM #189
Marie-Denise Kratsios
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Huntington, NY
Where ever you are, that's where I'll be!

Hooray for Carrie for being brave enough to write about this issue.  Sadly, it has become so much of our's in the movies, it's on TV (though I think the F-bombs are still only used on cable), it's on radio.  Think about the latest popular group...I may love LMFAO's music, but I don't like what their name stands for.  (If you don't know you can Google it).  Even children at the elementary school level know what it means.
I hear people in the workplace use it.  I hear kids use it in front of their parents and parents use it in front of their kids. Women, young and old, use it almost as much as men.   I'm not embarrassed to say that it still shocks me.  Are we losing our standards or are they just changing?  In most cases, we can't use the words such as "family" in advertising, but the world turns a blind eye (or should I say ear) to profanity.  I don't get it.

Thanks, Carie, for this great discussion.  Who knows, maybe you've started a grass roots movement.

Feb 14, 2012 04:31 AM #190
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Carie, I've never really engaged in profanity. I always thought it so unlady like. Fortunately, I haven't had this experience with fellow agents or clients. Would I have said anything to this young man? Probably not. He would have felt I was judging him. However, if he were a close personal friend, I would not hesitate to say something.

Feb 14, 2012 06:38 AM #191
Sandy McAlpine
Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC

I wouldn't be able to sit with a straight face next to someone who was constantly using the f word the whole day. I might have even brought it up, snarkily. That seems a little too casual type conversation to me. Not very professional for just meeting someone!

Feb 14, 2012 10:16 AM #192
Dan Connolly
Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside - Atlanta, GA

I haven't read all the comments, so I hope I am not repeating others,  but my advice is to say "I am sorry but I am not comfortable with that sort of language." If he said it again I wouldn't wait for a break, I would get up and move immediately. That type of person is borderline dangerous.

Feb 15, 2012 05:24 AM #193
Ken Anderson
Apex Results Realty Inc., Brokerage - Burlington, ON
Broker in Burlington, Ontario

I am not a holier-than-thou hypocrite about foul language, but I have learned a few things I can say still can have a profound affect on my thinking and language usage:

I worked for a broker who I never heard swear in 25 years.  He was as macho 'man's man' as I have ever known.  He could paint a fantastic word picture of what he was trying to convey as well as Renoir could put it on canvas, or he could put big strong men to shame with approbation that made his point all with panache and no swearing.  I have seldom met a man with such a command of the English language.

I had spoken to a Realtor several times, and found her to be polite, knowledgeable and pleasant.  I met her in person at a board function, and she was prettier than her photo by far (which is unusual in itself).  I couldn't wait to speak with her.  When I approached her group, in less than a minute, I couldn't believe her foul mouth, and suddenly she wasn't very pretty anymore.

I have occasionally slipped in a conversation, usually when telling a story, and uttered some profanity.  I stop instantly and apologize.  Often, the person will say, 'oh, don't worry, I didn't really notice, and I've done it myself'.  To which I say 'Well I noticed and I should be more considerate'.  Having people say that they are understanding is like saying they understand that you have a weakness.  I want to be too proud to expose my weaknesses to the world. 

Feb 15, 2012 10:17 AM #194
Bob Caldwell
Fitzgerald Financial, a Division of Monarch Bank - Annapolis, MD
VA Mortgage Specialist and Military Relocation Services

I would agree that it is generally 100% inappropriate to use foul language in business; at the same time, context and frequency are important in considering this type of issue.  People that are constantly cursing often end up sounding unintelligent and when they truly are angry, it is difficult to tell.  Interesting topic!

Feb 17, 2012 07:53 AM #195
Eric Salonga
The Salonga Brothers at Reed Realty - Ceres, CA
Your Key to the Central Valley

Profanity and professionalism doesn't really go together.  I always think that people who use profanity in their vernacular just need to expand their vocabulary.  I understand some people use profanity to emphasize their point but at what cost?  I, for one, am not easily offended but I can see how other people are and I'm sensitive to their situation.  Bottom line is that we are Agents and we represent our profession.

Great post Carie.


Feb 17, 2012 07:57 AM #196
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

What was this person thinking?  I am trying to imagine what this Realtor's clients are like. I would definitely have changed seats in the first break.

Feb 17, 2012 11:16 PM #197
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Carie -  it takes all types of people..   always amazes me.. but perhaps his clientele is of the same fibre as he..I hope he does not work for a company that allows that.. and that he is self employed..

Feb 19, 2012 11:48 PM #198
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

Wow, 203 comments!  I trhink this post is great.  Why would you even take the time to dress and look professional if when you speak you contradict that very show of professionalism.  Crazy. -Kasey

Feb 22, 2012 06:28 AM #199
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Thank you again to everyone who has commented on my post.  As I've mentioned above, this is a very sensitive topic that seems to affect many people in different ways.  And, when you are still receiving comments almost 2 weeks after the initial posting, that says something!  Thanks again ... I appreciate all of you stopping by :)

Feb 22, 2012 11:09 AM #200
Shannon Coe
Keller Williams - Rocklin, CA
916-597-3818, Lincoln, Rocklin, Loomis, Roseville

wow, it is surprising that anyone would use that word. Impressions are everything!

Feb 22, 2012 11:53 PM #201
Shannon Coe
Keller Williams - Rocklin, CA
916-597-3818, Lincoln, Rocklin, Loomis, Roseville

wow, it is surprising that anyone would use that word. Impressions are everything!

Feb 22, 2012 11:53 PM #202
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


Just wanted to let you know I found this via Richard Yates and very impressive about page views and timeless post her on AR. cheers cvc

Feb 24, 2012 12:10 AM #203
Kim & Kristine Halverson
Compass - Santa Monica, CA
Sisters, Realtors

Love it! "Do You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth!!!" So cute.  Kristine

Feb 28, 2012 12:49 PM #204
Peter Lake
Harborside Sothebys International Realty - Marblehead, MA
Associate Broker

I worked once for Damon Runyan's godson and he used the "F" word all the time, but he was a great storyteller and everyone who heard him was on the floor laughing.

If you're a skilled writer and storyteller you can perhaps use ANY and ALL words, but few people are that talented.

Mar 06, 2012 11:25 AM #205
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL

I rarely, if ever, use foul language, so it always sticks out to me like a sore thumb when I hear it from others.  However, unless I'm with my kids, I have never asked someone to stop using profanity.  It's their right, and if I don't like it, I can always remove myself from the conversation.  However, I do think it's very unprofessional.

Oct 23, 2012 04:34 AM #206
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