How To Effectively Use Profanity In The Workplace

Sometimes it helps to make your (expletive) point.

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Mayor Nutter has come under some heat this past week over the more-than-liberal use of profanity during the recent Fourth of July concert on the Parkway.

I understand the concern. It’s a public, family oriented event. The crowds are brutal, the heat is oppressive and with the exception of The Roots, the music really isn’t that great. (What, you actually like Ed Sheeran?)




And on top of that you have to hear bad language?

What would our forefathers say about this? What would Jay-Z say about this?

OK, let’s admit it: we all use bad language. And not just when arguing with our spouses or watching the Phillies. I’ve been known to drop a dirty word or two while at work as well.

But sometimes, believe it or not, it’s OK. Over the years, I’ve learned that even in a professional environment, there is a right and wrong way to use even the filthiest of words. So are you still unsure about when and where to drop the F-bomb? Or what’s right and wrong use of profanity at the workplace?

By all means, let me help.

• F**k

Right: Anything that describes a shared predicament that creates camaraderie and an atmosphere of teambuilding. Example: “we are truly f**ked” or “that was f**king awesome guys!” Also appropriate if you’ve just won the 2008 World Series.

Wrong: Describing a person, even if he deserves it. Example: “you are a f**king disgrace” or “that customer is a f**king douchebag and if he doesn’t pay his bill I’m going to f**king go over there myself and kick his f**king head in.” Save it for a Saturday night out with your friends. And get a little therapy.

• S**t

Right: Uttering the word in dismay like “s**t! I’m late for a meeting!” or when you put “kind of” in front. For example: “OK, that project was kind of s**ty, don’t you all think? Or “he’s kind of a sh**head, am I right?”

Bad: When you say “piece of” before, like “you are such a piece of s**t” or “that proposal was a piece of s**t.” You may be right, but it’s just hurtful. Even if that proposal was a piece of s**t.

• C**t

Right: Only if you’re a British skinhead from Manchester with no education and a smack habit.

Wrong: All other instances. I mean it. Not good.

• P**s

Right: Appropriate when used in the past tense like “that guy p**sed me off” or “geez, we really f**ked up that order and that customer is super p**sed. Ken…you better talk to him.”

Wrong: When describing a bodily function or beer. There are much better words to use and frankly I think Miller Lite is a fine beverage.

• C**ksucker Right: If you’re suddenly transported back in time and get into an argument while negotiating a contract with Frank Sinatra. You may also want to re-acquaint yourself with terms like “knuckle sandwich” and “sorehead.”

Wrong: All other situations that occur after 1955, particularly with any LGBT person. Ask Alec Baldwin about that one.

• Motherf**ker

Right: When you find out that the idiot in marketing is making $10K more a year than you and you say to a colleague “can you believe that mother**ker? I’m way more valuable than him,” or “I’m going to kill that kiss-a** mother**ker next time I see him.”  Or when you’re referring to what’s written on Samuel L. Jackson’s wallet in Pulp Fiction because that movie is an American classic and perfectly acceptable to talk about in the workplace, even though there are a million curse words in i.

Wrong: Anytime there’s an “-ing” after the word, like “that was a mother**king disgrace.” No need to bring anyone’s mother into the conversation. Trust me, the f**king works fine on its own.

• D**k

Right: This word is acceptable in most professional circumstances. It’s usually recommend to put a “kind of” in front to temper the effect like “he’s kind of a d**k, don’t you think?” but it’s still OK to call someone a d**head whether in anger or in jest as long as it’s not a female. Females, of course, can call guys “d**ks” all day long because a)it’s funny, b)it gives them the sense of superiority and c)they’re probably right.

Wrong: Any reference to the male anatomy. We’re self-conscious enough, which is why we use so many profane words. There’s no need to be mean, OK?

• B**ch

Right: When referring to a job or project like “that was a b**ch” or when discussing how Elton John used to be so much better in the ‘70’s.

Wrong: If you’re not a female and are referring to another person.

• A**hole

Right: Most effective when you prepare everyone for the word. Like, “can I say something? That guy was an a**hole, don’t you think?” Substituting “douche” or “douchebag” is not only perfectly acceptable but does not even require an asterisk.

Wrong: Not adding the word “hole.” Just calling someone an “a**” leaves your listener…well…a little empty if I might say.  The word “hole” after it gives your expression that extra needed umph. So if you’re going to describe someone as an a** then really bring it home. Add the hole. It’s more effective and you’ll feel better.

Have fun, kids. And  remember…don’t try this at home!

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