Workplace civility: Is there room for the ‘F-bomb’ at work?

Say what you want to say at home; don’t take “F-bombs” to work. Photo: A.J. Clemente lost his anchor job on the first day for cursing AP photo

SALT LAKE CITY, April 23, 2013 — “What do you guys think about using the F word at work? Around other people who don’t swear? At sporting events? With friends? In general? When, if ever, are F bombs ok?”

This was the question posed to the Ask Angela Facebook group on Sunday this past week. The responses ranged from, “It’s hilarious at the right moment”, or “It’s okay” if “it’s the best word to express my significant pain, embarrassment or aggravation” to, “I really hate the word,” “It’s useless, crass and a sign of immaturity”, “It should only be used in extreme cases [like] if your car is flying off a cliff,” etc. etc. You get the picture.

Cursing is a no-no in the work place Image: AP

Lots of different opinions and you can check Facebook to see even more, but the general consensus was that in a professional setting, language and attitudes should be professional, so therefore, leave the F-word at home.

Newly appointed and recently fired news anchor, A.J. Clemente, just learned first-hand what can happen if you don’t. Over the weekend, Clemente whispered, “F***ing s***!” directly into his microphone while on-air at a North Dakotan NBC affiliate.

It was his first day. He was nervous, no doubt, and he needed to say the 2013 Boston Marathon winner’s name (Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia), but he didn’t know how to pronounce it. So put yourself in his shoes. You’re feeling pressure? Frustration? Panic? And a swear word slips out? And you get fired for it?

Fair or unfair? It’s easy to sympathize with his situation and feel, at least, a little bit bad about the unfortunate outcome. After all, who hasn’t already heard those words? And out of those responsible for terminating him, it’s likely that many of them have used profanities of some kind at one time or another, so why the uproar?

The lesson here, however, is that even though “bad” language has become so commonplace that many don’t think of it as bad anymore, in a setting where you want to look your best (work/meeting new people/auditions/interviews/etc), to be safe, leave the more colorful language at home.

Readers: What do you think? Did Clemente need to lose his job for this one? Do you have a problem with swearing at work? Check Facebook to see the video clip of Clemente’s first and last stint on air with the local news.


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Angela Trusty

Angela Trusty brings her great life observations and advice Communities.  Angela also authors   ‘Ask Angela’ which also appears bi-monthly in the Deseret News. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the lucky sibling of 5 sisters and 1 brother.

She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, but Baltimore will always be her home. 


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