Author Topic: Potty Mouth at work  (Read 2875 times)

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snugasabug

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Potty Mouth at work
« on: February 23, 2012, 05:17:55 AM »
How do you deal with "Potty Mouth" at work?   A friend of mine was talking about someone in her office who swears constantly.  She said "If she drops a piece of paper, you don't want to hear the foul language that flows from her mouth!"

Friend works in a real estate office. She said the swearing coworker is pretty tight with the boss and that Boss seems to turn a blind eye to the offensive language. This coworker does not seem to notice or care about who is in her range of hearing. Clients, agents, office staff, does not matter.

How would you handle working with this offensive language?  It sounds like it's F-bombs and very course language.

snugasabug

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 07:49:16 PM »
OP here.  Everyone is speechless??   :)  Yea...I did not know what advice to give either. LOL

JennJenn68

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 07:59:03 PM »
Not speechless... just no access to the forum all day!

I deal with issues like that in a lighthearted manner.  I've been known to use some fairly "blue" language myself from time to time, but I'm able to put a cork in it when I'm at work.  (Since I work in a school, that's essential!)  I've switched my language to innocuous and silly-sounding expletives.  Perhaps if your friend was to respond when she hears her coworker in full voice by spewing forth a line of these ridiculous expletives loud enough for the offender to hear, which might just make a subtle point as to how unimaginative and offensive said coworker is being.  (Actually, the handle that one of the Ehell forum stalwarts uses--"Slartibartfast"--is a perfect example of the kind of expletives I utilize.  Douglas Adams originally coined it because it was the rudest-sounding name he could invent that could still be used on public radio!)

Seriously, this coworker might not even be aware of what she is saying.  Coming out with silly language might just derail her into suddenly realizing what she has just said.  (If she is aware, shame on the boss for not dealing with it in a prompt and timely manner.  It's completely out of line in a real estate office.  I would go elsewhere if I heard that kind of language in that setting, if I were a client.)

kareng57

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 08:55:30 PM »
It's one thing (though I still wouldn't like it) if it's a "closed" office that never has clients visiting.  However, that's certainly not the case with a real estate office.  If I was a client I would certainly get an "unprofessional" vibe from this.  Would I therefore decide not to  use the agency's service (if I hadn't already signed with them)? - probably not, but you never know.

It's true that your friend will likely get nowhere with Boss if she tries to single out this particular co-worker.  It might be better to word a memo along the lines of "some of us have seen clients who seem bothered by the *blue* language around here sometimes.  While we know that it can be nothing more than a bad habit, could we all make an effort to tone it down?"

Mental Magpie

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2012, 02:58:00 AM »
I've got a pretty foul mouth myself, but I know when to put a cork in it!  I agree, if I was a customer and heard that, I'd think it pretty unprofessional.  Around the work place when it's only other workers? I'd probably let something slip.  When I meet new people (outside of work), swear, then catch myself, I always say, "Sorry, I've got a potty mouth.  If that will be offensive to you please let me know."  I've had people tell me to just not drop the F-Bomb and they'll be fine.  I've had others try to engage me in a contest  >:D

My best advice is to have your friend take her coworker aside and say something along the lines of, "You're a great gal, and although I don't really mind it, I'm afraid customers are getting the wrong idea of you when they hear you say those things.  They may not think you're very professional, but I know you are!" and, if they're close enough, "Let's think of some really funny things we can say instead." 

Dark Sister and I came up with, "Floating Rope Soap!" for when we start to say the F-word in front of her neighbor kids...
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lowspark

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2012, 08:44:32 AM »
Probably it's going to take a client complaining to the boss to get the boss to sit up and take notice. Are there any clients you know well enough to ask them to say something? If the boss, knowing clients can hear it, is turning a deaf ear, s/he needs to realize that it could affect business.

Bibliophile

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2012, 09:10:28 AM »
If the boss isn't saying anything, there isn't much a person can do about it.

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bopper

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2012, 09:16:07 AM »
"Hey! There are customers here!"

or
Get a big jar and plop it down on her desk and say "This is a swear jar.  We all have to put a $1 in everytime we swear.  We are giving it up for Lent."

RandomAngel

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2012, 09:20:52 AM »
If the boss isn't saying anything, there isn't much a person can do about it.

I agree. I think there are a lot of suggestions here that are good in general, but I don't see that the OP's friend has the authority to implement any of them. It would probably be worth her while to bring it up to the boss (even if she thinks it's unlikely to help), but I don't think she can take it upon herself to correct her coworker in this.

MrTango

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2012, 09:23:39 AM »
I agree with the previous posters who think it would be best for Boss to hear the complaints from a customer.

If Boss starts to think that the co-worker's swearing has potential to affect his bottom line, he'll do something about it.

hobish

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2012, 10:05:53 AM »
"Hey! There are customers here!"

or
Get a big jar and plop it down on her desk and say "This is a swear jar.  We all have to put a $1 in everytime we swear.  We are giving it up for Lent."

I would definitely not bring religion into it. Not everyone observes Lent; using it to bring a coworker into obedience ... sorry, just no. I think that would be worse than the cursing.

I would bring it to the boss, mentioning how unprofessional it sounds; but if he doesn't say anything just leave it be. I would honestly rather hear the F bomb than "potty mouth," though, so maybe it is just me.

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ilrag

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2012, 11:00:20 AM »
It varies by state but here (CA) real estate agents are independent contractors.  The broker who runs the office (or group of brokers) isn't really their direct "boss".  That might be why no one is stepping in to correct the behavior.

Oh Joy

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2012, 11:35:25 AM »
Depends.  Does she want the swearing to stop around her because it makes her uncomfortable, or does she want it to stop as a general office culture regardless of whether she's present?  I think the two would warrant different approaches.

Oxymoroness

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2012, 11:59:23 AM »
Unless your her boss, there really isn't anything you can do about it barring asking her to tone it down a knotch. Otherwise, remain professional.

Sirius

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Re: Potty Mouth at work
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2012, 02:10:11 PM »
If the swearing is making the OP uncomfortable s/he might try talking to the person and asking them to cut back when talking to them (the OP).  This may or may not work, depending on if the swearer has any human decency, e.g. some people are so tacky that they'd ramp up the swearing if someone asked them to stop.  However, I think the best thing to happen is if a customer complains.  Some people just don't get it unless they're hit right in the wallet.