"DO YOU eat with that mouth?"

It is a question you may have asked on coming into contact with a profanity-prone colleague. But when it comes to swearing in a business environment, what is in poor taste and how does it affect your professional image?

According to the results of a 2012 survey by Careerfinder, foul words may affect not only your reputation, but also your promotion chances.

After surveying more than 2,000 hiring managers and 3,800 workers across industries and company sizes, it was found that 64 per cent of employers said that they would think less of an employee who repeatedly uses curse words, and 57 per cent said they would be less likely to promote someone who swears in the office.

So who is using all that foul language?

According to the survey, half of the respondents reported swearing in the office and the majority of those (95 per cent) reported that they curse in front of their co-workers.

Another 51 per cent admitted to cursing in front of their boss or supervisor. And if you think that only men are using foul language, the survey indicates that women are catching up with their male counterparts, with 47 per cent of women admitting to cursing while on the company clock.

As the day-to-day demands on today's workers continue to increase, swearing can be a way to let off steam.

However, that does not mean that your office should sound like a drunken wrestling match or a scene out of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street (Guinness World Records title holder for the most swearing in one film).

Even polished professionals lose their cool on occasion, but the next time you feel a blue streak coming on, consider these factors first:


You are as good as your word - according to the saying - and if your words are off colour, they will reflect poorly on your overall professional presence.

Keep in mind that offices are collaborative places and we are constantly in the company of people who share different values and beliefs.

If you offend someone with your language, you may harm valuable relationships with your colleagues and jeopardise the overall team dynamic.

By keeping it clean, you can maintain your image as cool, collected and in charge.


In many cases, swear words or off-colour language can be interpreted as harassment, especially if the wording has a sexist slant to it.

If you are in a management position, you have an even larger role in maintaining an environment that ensures safety and security - both physically and mentally - and cursing can create an atmosphere of disrespect and chaos.

Do yourself a favour and avoid violating any human resource policy, and save the swearing for the ride home.


One of the most notable aspects about cursing is that it is so common. The words and phrases are objectionable and cliche.

If you must curse, ensure your expletives are not only socially acceptable but also creative.


Again, we know there are instances where a curse word may just to the surface, like when the office copier is out of toner and that "done deal" becomes undone all of a sudden.

So if you are prone to cursing during stress or strike, make sure you never do so in front of a client or customer.

Remember, you are a brand ambassador for your company at all times and you need to protect your company's reputation along with your own.