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Is swearing at work appropriate?

Is the odd swear in the office forgivable or should accountants always act in a professional manner?

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This question may test AccountingWEB’s swear filter, but here it goes.

In a CNN article that caught my eye last week, a US attorney argued that swearing in the workplace could “run the risk of creating a potential legal liability” and may result in clients feeling uncomfortable.

A swear here and there may slip out your mouth in the office but too much ‘effing’ doesn’t mix well with maintaining a level of professionalism in the workplace.

In 2018 we even saw an accountant reprimanded by the ICAEW after a sweary client rant.

So in a profession like accountancy, is the odd swear in the office forgivable or should accountants always act in a professional manner?

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By Tax Dragon
30th Jul 2019 09:32

The swear filter is interesting, because the reader can substitute something worse than what you wrote.

The other day (before my accident with the polos) I wrote "[***] what Justin says". It was filtered. The reading is worse than the writing.

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Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
30th Jul 2019 09:54

The thing about swear filters is that you can usually get your point across simply by adding a space in the middle of your curse. How does AWeb's filter fair I wonder:

F uck
Sh it
A rse
Bas tard
Gobsh ite

As for swearing in the office, maybe not in front of clients, but it definitely helps when they're not around to let off some steam. I imagine I'd very quickly go insane if I had to deal with some of the f.uckwits I do on a day to day basis without the occasional swear.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By Tax Dragon
30th Jul 2019 10:13

Putting this and my observation together.... an alternative is to have a key.

Then the interested (and those that wanted to be offended... what's with that behaviour trait?) could go and look it up, while those that didn't care (and those that didn't want to be offended) wouldn't.

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By paul.benny
30th Jul 2019 09:55

Richard Hattersley wrote:
is the odd swear in the office forgivable

hell, yes.

It's all about context and degree.

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
30th Jul 2019 10:01

I suspect when working with staff in the office all swearing ought to be forbidden; it could certainly make some staff I have worked with uncomfortable- when I did work for a practice I do not really recall anyone ever swearing in the office though I did hear a fair few comments that were racist and offensive (1980s and 1990s)

One of the advantages for the self employed accountant is he or she can sit working and uttering curses re the client's books to their heart's content, I have even been known to swear at myself in my study muttering things like , "DJKL, you ******* idiot " when attempting to perform some accounting role in a cack-handed manner.

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By Rgab1947
30th Jul 2019 10:25

Old fashioned I am I suppose but I also do not think swearing is necessary or should be acceptable. Certainly not in a work environment where people may get offended by certain swear words.

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Mike Cooper HJS
By mike_uk_1983
30th Jul 2019 13:08

Surely with regards to clients it will depend on the client. You may have a client who swears every other word themselves and they may feel more comfortable if their accountant also swears whereas other clients maybe more offended by it. You have to know your client.

Obviously swearing and telling the client what you think of them and their recordkeeping wouldn't be professional but in the office to yourself and colleagues who know the work can be good to let off steam.

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By InterimAccountant
30th Jul 2019 10:29

No its not appropriate except in your head. You are supposed to be professional and be an individual that other look to for advice and guidance.
Swearing indicates stress and a lack of personal control and these are the issues that you need to address.

As the Italians say "scopare loro"

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By memyself-eye
30th Jul 2019 10:38

I just let Father Jack do my swearing for me!

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Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
30th Jul 2019 10:44

F eck off!

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By RobbyDobby
30th Jul 2019 10:48

I must say in the office I work in, we all have the odd word come out not at a person but more at the work or after a very challenging phone call to let off steam.

Surely this is part of our ethical professionals that we try your hardest to give the best impression of us and our organisation.

My thought is that you don't swear around clients or other as this reduces you as a person. I think the problem is that you hear modern music or see TV programs it seem like some badge of honor to see how many swear words you can get in.

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By KH
30th Jul 2019 10:51

If you heard my wife swear, then you'd wish she were always in your office ... she makes even the most awful swear word sound like a casually beautiful phrase ... whereas I just don't have that ability ... so I'd say it depends on who's doing the swearing, not just whom/what the swearing is addressed at ... .........

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Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
30th Jul 2019 11:58

“run the risk of creating a potential legal liability”

Seriously? Only in the US.

What that liability could be, I've no idea. Should we start accruing for this?

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By LostinSuspense
30th Jul 2019 12:41

Apparently swearing in the workplace is completely inappropriate, least that's what HR told me at my disciplinary after I called my boss a useless wuck fit. (bl00dy speech impediment, I meant he was unsuited for the role)

On a serious note, it is context, I have spent my time working in an office environment where swearing would be completely inappropriate (I created useless phrases and gibberish to scream at moments of despair so as to avoid offence). I have also worked in environments where swearing is almost the norm (one person I worked with managed to get the F word in a 4 word sentence 3 times and still provide a coherent answer to a question).

when you are surrounded by it all the time, it can rub off on you, even slightly, but as ever you need to be mindful of the environment you are in at all times.

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By MC1
30th Jul 2019 15:45

Be yourself I say. Why should you live a false life of pretence.

If you swear in your private life and it comes naturally to you to swear in your public life, then do so. If that upsets people in your public life then maybe you should either change where you hold your public life encounters or change your personality! But ultimately it's for you to determine and not others.

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By Tax Dragon
30th Jul 2019 15:55

If you swear at me I will knock you senseless.

Don't be offended - it's just how I'd express myself.

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By Red Leader
30th Jul 2019 17:56

You're all limiting your repertoire to the Anglo-Saxon oeuvre. Try branching out.

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Replying to Red Leader:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
30th Jul 2019 18:11

What have eggs got to do with it?

(Bottom set for French)

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Replying to DJKL:
By Red Leader
30th Jul 2019 18:12

Ooooh - bottoms!

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