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How to Handle Profanity in Business Communications

No profanity in business emails.

Why do some use profanity to communicate a difference of opinion or point of view? Choosing to do so speaks volumes about the sender’s professionalism and will negatively impact their branding. Specifically, we are talking about business email communications.

Those who use profanity in emails appear less educated. Why? Because knowledgeable folks tend to have a vocabulary. A vocabulary they use to communicate any emotion they desire — without profanity.

The words you choose and how you use them can directly correlate to your business ethos when it comes to business email. How you communicate also reflects what you may feel is necessary (or not). What it will be like to work with you.

When landing on a website or blog where you disagree with the commentary, why would you feel the need to send an email filled with cuss words? That is being a bully.

Those who swear in business emails should stop and consider what results using that approach will produce. Cooperation? Friction? Profanity will not enable a positive move forward.

Leave Out the Emotion

Whether you are the sender or the recipient of a profanity-laden email, take a deep breath before clicking send.

When you discover that you respond with a display of negative emotion, stop right there even if your anger is justified. Wait until you can think about how to respond professionally, factually, and intelligently.

If you disagree with the content, explain why. Present your point of view based on information or data so the recipient can understand why you so viscerally disagree.

But not clearly stating why you are so upset and only name call or swear reflects you don’t have a valid alternate point of view. If you want to be taken seriously, that is not the way to be taken seriously.

Sadly, this approach is becoming increasingly common online. I’ve received a few myself because someone disagrees with Business Email Etiquette. Swearing. Over Business Email Etiquette.

And, I’m not alone. Website visitors and clients ask me for advice on how to handle abusive emails as well.

Disagree Professionally

If you disagree with someone’s opinions or writings, how you do so makes all the difference. Part of the online experience is feedback, forums, and contact forms. However, the way you respond to a particular email or comment and if it is is the right thing to do, now or even never, is up to your discretion.

You always want to communicate based on the facts at hand, not emotion. Do your best to have a constructive conversation where all involved can feel free to exchange differences — without swear words.

And if you use your business email address to send such emails or post commentary with foul language on blogs or in forums, participants will access your business image accordingly.

Lead by Example

If you are on the receiving end of someone who is just being difficult or rude, you do not have to respond in kind. There will always be those that will have a different opinion or disagree with your processes or procedures and for whatever reason in a less than courteous manner. That’s on them.

From my perspective, I take those emails as a teachable moment. I never stoop to the same level of emotion and always choose my words very carefully. I also don’t take it personally. I respond with courtesy and clarity in my rebuttal.

Keep in mind there is no requirement to respond to rude or abusive emails at all. There are times where no matter how you respond, there is no upside. Some folks are never happy. Know when to let the “conversation” end.

When you run into this type of communicator, you have the opportunity to set an example. You can show that how you run your business includes a level of professionalism and courtesy that was not offered to you.

Share the knowledge!

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