Lately I’ve seen article titles, email subject lines, blog posts and advertising laced with profanities. It seems to be a new trend, one I want to caution readers not to follow.
In one-on-one situations, it may seem that using crass language makes you sound relatable or genuine. But in a group setting, whether you’re addressing a few people or a crowd of thousands, you’re held to a higher standard. Because you have the platform, the audience expects you to adhere to stricter, more professional rules of etiquette. And that includes grammar and word choice.
Here are some of the misconceptions about using profane language in front of an audience:
- A little cussing never hurts. Wrong. Even if they use it themselves, people will ding you in perception points for making crude comments.
- Stuff happens. We’re all human and it’s okay to let one slip once in awhile, so to speak. But this devil-may-care attitude is a slippery slope, which can quickly turn a few indiscretions into habitual garbage talk.
- It makes me edgier, more current. Weak word choice may lend you a temporary hipness factor with a certain audience segment, but bringing yourself down to their level is risky business.
- It will help my brand standout. Maybe. But you’re a lot better off linking your brand to positive associations. Besides, why would you take the risk of losing customers over a few poorly chosen words?
If you were raised by sailors (like I was), it’s hard not to toss in a few curse words. But avoid it at all costs, especially when you’re in a group setting.
Before you act …
Use your internal filter to weed out swearwords before they slip out. Challenge yourself to expand your vocabulary as a way to break any dependence on vulgarities. And if you are on the profanity bandwagon, jump off. Trust me. When it comes to using uncouth language, you can be damned if you do … not if you don’t.