Maybe it’s my age showing. Maybe it’s my small town Indiana upbringing.
I’m getting tired and more than a little offended by the loosening of language in the business world. Bestselling books dropping F— and Sh— in the title. High traffic websites casually using the same coarse language. Speakers and authors adding vulgarity to their messages to do what…shock us into listening to them? Frankly, IMNSHO, if that’s what it takes, then their messages can’t be that strong.
What’s your take on this apparent growing trend? Is vulgarity appropriate in marketing and messaging?
Watch this week’s Uncopyable Business message!
What’s your opinion? And use appropriate language, please!
Hi Steve–couldn’t agree with you more! Bad language has no business in the business world! I also think that people know that but unfortunately slip up from time to time. I’ve been in meetings where people swear and they usually instantly apologize because they know it’s inappropriate in that setting. I usually don’t take offense especially if they do apologize because then at least I know that they know it’s bad. If someone didn’t apologize and kept at it–you’re right–they seem very unintelligent to me! Great rant!
Very good point, Stephanie. Thanks!
I agree that what you call “appropriate” is more articulate and pleasant, and that’s what I prefer, but I think that it’s unrealistic to expect our world views to prevail in today’s world.
Thanks have changed that aren’t likely to change back.
Another dagger in the heart of common decency, Tom!
This has bothered me for some time. My opinion and what I have told my son since he was very young is that when people use vulgarity, especially to excess, it is just showing their ignorance. They do not know how to come up with the appropriate words to express their feelings so they simply do what is easiest and what will get a rise out of other people. This is a very negative trend and one that I hope will fade in time.
I’ve always heard that use of swear words is for lack of anything more intelligent to say!
It’s the same is not being able to logically/factually debate any issues anymore, you just get shouted down or shutdown!
I agree completely! F-Bombs and other language is waaaay out of place in business! I see it in articles, presentations, and emails. Last year, a young female representative from a well known marketing company sent an email blast asking: “do your emails suck”. Well to my generation “suck” has a whole different meaning than she was suggesting. I had had enough and responded to her about it. It is not necessary and has no value in business today.
I enjoy you’re your videos!
Steve, I agree with you completely! I get so sick of all the vulgarity that is way-too-common these days. I personally don’t like it anywhere, and in the business world? Well, it’s just not needed.
Well, I take that back in one specific case. One of our competitors doesn’t mind throwing a few of those words around in their marketing materials. Good for them! That’s the one place I’m happy to see the coarse language show up! 🙂
Ha! Wish I had competitors, like you, Dave!
I agree wholeheartedly with you….. This language is a problem and actually makes me wince when I hear it. I have worked hard to clear this from my language and I noticed recently that it was creeping back into my speech because I hear it all the time. I was told by a good friend of mine who has an excellent command of the English language and a huge vocabulary, that poor language is the sign of a weak mind……amen to that.
Thanks for speaking up Steve. We need to get back to proper etiquette in the work place. We have several millenials at work and their language is offensive 90% of the time. I like to say that their language is as narrow as their minds.
The business book market is saturated. The only way to stand out is to be outrageous by using either a “made you look” photo or a dirty language title.
When considering if it is OK to use dirty language in a business setting. You have to consider who you are trying to reach. Who in the global economy will be put off by it? Who will like it? Are they your targeted market? A person should also consider that their present day statements will be searchable and will live forever. A future business client or life partner will research you prior to developing a relationship. Will your present day statements make or break that future personal or business opportunity?
Understanding the proper time and place to use dirty language and how it reflects on you. This comes with age and experience. The Millennials will either gain this understanding or change business norms to make this language acceptable. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Answering your wondering, you are not a curmudgeon. You’re too nice for that title. How about just becoming elderly?
I’ll agree a little bit about the book market being saturated, Steven. A little bit.
Every market is saturated. Yes, we clearly need to do something about getting the attention of our target market and separating ourself from our competitors. That’s what my book, UNCOPYABLE: How to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition, is all about. But has it reached the point where I need to be vulgar to stand out? I don’t agree with that.
And I think I prefer being called a curmudgeon!
The bad language phenomena is but one symptom of a recent downward slide in verbal and written communication. Many of my US-born employees struggle to write simple sentences correctly. Their vocabulary is sparse, their grammar is atrocious, and they are disinclined to improve either one. It’s little wonder their off-duty speech is full of “bombs”. Bad speech indicates ignorance of one’s language. There are many, many ways to communicate thoughts without resorting to a single “bomb”.
Incidentally, I was walking through ORD last weekend and saw the same book display you described. I couldn’t believe it! I stopped walking and stared at the display just to make certain I hadn’t misread it. Nope. There was the F-bomb, front and center on the book cover. I was taken aback. Like you, I would NEVER buy that book. It’s said that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but it this instance, it felt perfectly OK.
I’ve been wondering if you are turning into a curmudgeon, too! Well, actually I have been wondering about me. It has been my observation that once your hair is more gray than brown, younger people do have a tendency to take what you say with a larger than usual grain of salt.
But, my feelings about this have not changed since my teens, and it isn’t limited to language. I can’t see why anyone would want to choose language that might risk alienating anyone, but especially when marketing a product or service.
Same goes for all the other potential biases. I have decided it is ok to look however you want on your own time. And talk however you want. If I were in a bar, I would be fine with letting some colorful language fly with someone I knew well.
But if we are doing business, I think it is important to look and behave professionally, and when possible to both dress and behave as closely as possible to the style of the other professionals I am interacting with. I probably would not call someone out for any of these things, but I sure wouldn’t be joining in. (And likely would say something privately).
I no longer look at some of the news websites because of the language. It isn’t because it particularly offends me, but there is a child in my house, and I don’t want to model that this is ok during a developmental stage where it matters.
I think this is a fad and it will pass, just like super wide ties and zoot suits. If you look closely, you will see that the only real change in formal business attire in the last 60 years has been the width of ties and lapels for both men and women (and the length of hems on skirts in some cases.) I don’t think this is a fluke.
So now we have two gray haired curmudgeons, Greg! Hope you’re right about this thing fading.
Agree completely Steve. My wife works for a major Bank in Perth, Western Australia. Not long ago staff members were been addressed by a senior manager and the language was one expletive after another. The problem is he is effectively setting an example and indirectly saying its ok to speak like that and it becomes an accepted part of the “culture” or the norm.
Steve, I get what you are saying. And, I mostly agree. I can’t think of one offhand, but I would offer that there might be a product or two for which the target audience would “appreciate” such language. Some businesses might want to maintain an “outlaw” persona, and that would certainly go a long way towards it.
I am less offended by the vulgar language, per se. However, what DOES offend me is the poor grammar that is often displayed. Split infinitives, misplaced prepositions, and a complete misunderstanding of what fewer / less mean, all make my blood boil. Throw in the PC effort to avoid saying s/he by using “they” to represent a singular noun, and I am back on my heart pills.
Yes, call me the grammar police. My mom would be proud. I just find that poor grammar reflects more on a person/business than the words that they (so carefully) choose.
Steve, while I was listening I looked up the F word in the online dictionary.com and to my surprise it is there with usage, meaning and a rather long dissertation about it’s use. If you haven’t looked, do so – not something I would have thought of doing – but was curious.
I completely agree with you. With the digital world now, it is much easier to put out the short, vulgar statements vs. something more appropriate. And with texting and twittering, we may lose the ability or desire to expand our thinking and our vocabulary. Even handwriting is going the way of the dinosaur. Can’t imagine not being able to write my name even in a digital world. I guess that’s why I’ve remained a Toastmasters member for so many years . . . learning leadership and communication as it changes during the years. It’s needed more than ever.