It used to be a joke when someone said, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” We need to ask, “Do your customers or associates with that mouth?”
Ok, anyone who’s known me in say the last 15 year at least, knows I’ve been the girl with THE biggest potty mouth. I could rival most sailors and I’m not bragging, just sadly stating facts. My mother always said she thought I’d be the first one to smoke, drink and cuss. Well, I’m shamefully admit that I mastered the cussing part quite well. When you’re young and you cuss, it’s because you think it’s cool and you want to fit in. What I’m trying to figure out is why you do it when you’re older and supposed to know better. For me, it was habit mostly and the big exclamation point in every sentence. I’m part Italian and from the North, so it’s just part of the make-up and personality (good excuse ey!). Those Jersey Shores girls “ain’t got nothin’ on me!”
My (pretty much lifelong) battle with expletives really hit home when I had my child. It wasn’t until around 3 years old that it really started bothering me and I started to “get” it. The funny thing was, I was always somehow able to keep it clean when I volunteered or was in the presence of elders, interesting – meaning I knew how to shut it off. A massive turning point was when a friend said something that just struck and actually embarrassed me because she hadn’t really been privy to my full-blow vocabulary, but maybe just enough though to send me a message. Friend said that “using curse words as part of a normal sentence or in every day vocabulary just makes you look stupid; like your vocabulary is limited because you hadn’t learned enough.” Hmm. .. I thought long and hard about that. Me, stupid? I didn’t like thinking about that too much. My behavior immediately began to change and now it’s funny because when someone does curse around me, my ears prick up and it screams out.
So the point of this post … I’m not addressing how we speak to one another on a personal level … that’s for someone else’s blog and rant. What is of interest to me is how we conduct ourselves on a business/professional level. I take note when I read an article in a notable, well-established publication and it blatantly uses the f-word in it. I don’t get that. I’m reading along and all of the sudden there’s an f-bomb explosion or whatever other offensive word and changes the whole experience for me. It just unnecessary. Exclamation points are necessary – f-bombs aren’t. When I read a blog and the blogger uses it, hey that’s their deal because it’s their territory – I’m totally ok with that. However, if a publication does it, it indeed takes me back. I will not retweet it or reference it no matter how good the content. Why? Because I do not know if any of my followers or anyone who stumbles upon my tweet or FB would be offended; so I just leave it alone and pass. I bring this up because it’s happened twice this past week.
Heck, if I wouldn’t forward it to my mother, I’m not forwarding to a customer, client or a business associate … it’s called R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I respect my mom, I respect my customers and clients, and I respect fellow business associates. It appears that our society today has a grave misunderstanding of the definition of the word respect and the waters are very muddled unfortunately. Hint to business folks, just because our teens and youth speak like that doesn’t mean we have to. (That brings me to a whole other blog topic about “casualness” and how we address each other. That’s a rant for another post.)
Interestingly, I have a client whom I think is a very nice person. His business however, is struggling and we discuss ways to help it. He wonders why he doesn’t get the bids and no one calls him back. Well, there’s a screaming red siren and that siren is his constant stream of curse words. I was totally taken off guard during my initial dealings with him because of this. I can say it definitely offends me; yet, I always try and counteract with some positive. I can’t say that if I was seeking him for work on my home that he would be on the top of my list though. Huge, huge turnoff. I struggle if I should say something to him about it, like the reality that it may not be so much the economy that’s hurting his business, as it is his mouth.
So before being so carefree with our customers and peers and definitely prior to writing, perhaps just to keep things in check, maybe we should ask, “Do you kiss your customers with that mouth?”
Now that I’ve vented a little bit, let me know what you think. Am I a prude or off base? Do you feel the same? What are your thoughts about potty mouths and potty writers? I’d love to hear and welcome all input on this!
In my day, we didn’t have self-esteem, we had self-respect, and no more of it than we had earned. ~Jane Haddam