An old Chinese proverb states that good words are like a string of pearls. Using slang and profanity in spoken and written communications can unintentionally create an emotionally charged atmosphere for colleagues and clients.
In the United Kingdom, the elevating problem of slang in speech is beginning to be addressed within the school system. Educators realized that the inability to speak articulately was disadvantageous to students as they transitioned from the classroom to the world of work. When slang was banned from one school in Manchester, according to the BBC, exam results soared as a consequence.
With the everyday use of slang in all media outlets and popular music, many may be desensitized to the offensiveness of their language to others. While words do have the power to edify and promote an atmosphere of civility, they also have the power to destroy and demoralize. A few common slang phrases that might offend or be misinterpreted are:
- "That sucks."
- "She/he is so lame."
- "This is so sick."
- "He's such a brown-noser."
- "That's so hot!"
According to a recent Reuters report, the list is long of jargon that commonly annoys workers.
Many people erroneously think that their profanity or usage of slang is not problematic. While it may be rare for someone to publicly criticize another for bad language, this is not a sign of acceptance. Word usage chosen by an individual creates an impression and neither slang nor profanities contribute to a positive one.
Our world is one that thrives on negative news. Our language has the ability to transcend the negativity that abounds. Words matter. We can use them carefully and thoughtfully for the benefit of others from all backgrounds and perspectives.
Donna Dilley is a business etiquette consultant based In Roanoke, Virginia. She writes a business etiquette column for Valley Business FRONT.