Did She Just Say That?

Brenda Sibley, CEO SinglePoint Staffing

Recently I attended a professional conference for women where several speakers presented on topics relating to business success, branding techniques, and personal development.  The conference venue was a fancy hotel with delicious food and included a jam-packed schedule with impressive speakers; an overall high-caliber event. I looked forward to this conference for the opportunity to be re-energized and focused on improving in my business practices and work-life balance.

While enjoying one of the sessions, out of nowhere the presenter dropped the bomb.  Yes, the “F bomb.”  What?  Did she just say that?  Oh yes she did.  And she said it again, and again.  I was taken aback by the crudeness of her language and glanced around the room to see if I was the only one.  Just then there was a combined gasp and a group chuckle as that same word appeared on the PowerPoint slide.  There it was in big, block letters, screaming at me from the front of the room. Instantly, everyone in the room pulled out their phones and started snapping photos of the inappropriate phrase on the screen. Were they as shocked as I was or were they amused by the audacity of the presenter? I couldn’t tell.

I realize this word, and other colorful words like it, are becoming more commonplace in our culture and society. It seems to be pervasive in our entertainment and sport venues, as well as our schools and playgrounds. At times it seems the only means for some people to make a point is to add an expletive at the beginning, middle and end of a statement. Gone are the days of George Washington, who said,

“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”

Although we are far from the days of our forefathers, I believe there is still place in our society for professionalism in communication.

Admittedly, I just don’t hear profanity very often (with the exception of those moments when I happen to be near those three muscle-head dudes at the gym). So perhaps I am more sensitive than some.  However, in my opinion, it is important to maintain a high level of professionalism, especially in these settings.  With such a diverse group of participants in a conference of this type, you just don’t know to whom you are speaking.  Why alienate or perhaps even offend a portion of your audience simply by the words you choose?  

In professional settings, whether it is in the office, at a business lunch, job interview or conference, keep your language clean and professional.  Leave the bombs for the after-hours events and let your message be what lingers in the mind of your listener.