Monday, July 21, 2014

Cursing at work

Colleague: "I can't believe we lost the fucking nursing home bed for this patient."

Me: "..."

Colleague: "Please excuse my language."

I don't mean to look so offended when somebody curses at work in my presence. I'm not actually offended.

But it does seem out of place to me. I don't curse at work or at home or really anywhere. At home, I don't want my kids to pick up that habit. And at work, I just don't think it's appropriate.

But on the other hand, I don't want a reputation as the prude who doesn't like it when people curse. Hey, it's not like I complain out loud or anything.


  1. I think I must do the same thing (look offended, not curse) because I always get an apology too. We are who we are. No one is judging you when they curse and you look offended - they are judging themselves and feeling a bit embarrassed. I suppose you could practice your poker face or fake laugh for the occasion. But beyond that I wouldn't worry about it. ... Also just a guess, when I curse it's because I am tired and frustrated and I've lost touch with my more refined coping mechanisms. If it's not someone who normally drops those bombs you might just respond to that and say something supportive. ... Like "Yeah. I know. That sucks ... But try not to take it too hard. You did the best you could." Or maybe something that sounds better than that ;)

  2. First, losing a nursing home bed for a patient sounds supremely frustrating so I can understand the unprofessional outburst in that regard. I like a good curse as well as most, but there have to be boundaries (work, etc.). I would interpret your lack of response as simply an expression of that being a boundary for you. It's way too easy to let cursing become more routine than it should be in many situations.

    One of my favorite exchanges in Deadwood (talking about cursing!!!) was one of the guys dropping the F bomb in front of one of the ladies, and then apologizing to her for his "French". Her immediate response was "It's ok, I speak French too." Brilliant. I have been waiting for someone to apologize for their French just so I can use that line.

  3. I think it mainly means that they've noticed that you don't curse and are trying to accommodate their assumptions about that fact. I've been on group conference calls where people who have never met me in person have apologized to me for cursing right after they did so. There's no way they were reacting to facial expression or body language, and I know I've never complained to anyone when someone's cursed in a business setting.

    The bit that felt the weirdest to me was that each time, it's specifically been an apology to me, not to the whole group. Yet they weren't cursing about me or even to me in particular. And in a couple of cases, it was the most senior person on the call cursing and then apologizing, which added in some hierarchical weirdness to the mix.