Scared To Confront Cursing Coworker!

Q. We recently hired a new project manager to our company. This person can not go one day without swearing and saying the "F"-word. I am not comfortable with this language especially in an office environment. Even our manufacturing staff does not swear like this. 

Unfortunately, this new worker does not do this in front of the VP we both work for. I hate   confrontation so I have not directly approached this person about her cursing. What I have done is walked away or left the office. I am to the point of total frustration and angry enough to just walk out of the office and go home. I do not like to hear things like "what the F*^$ is he doing?" or "he's a lazy   F*^$#r." I even feel disloyal in not defending the people she swears about.

I do not have any respect for this person at all. We are to work together closely and I do not want this to appear to be a personality conflict. Help! This has been going on for over a month. I feel I waited too long to actually say something. To make matters worse, others use some of   this language but not in the high daily doses that she does. I do not want to appear that I am singling out this one person. Today I was on hold with a customer. While on hold I answered her question and the answer was not what she want to hear and she said "F%$*!" real loud just as the customer came back on line. I was so embarrassed and also angry. 

What are my rights? Thank you so much for your website. It is very much needed in the workplace.


Sworn To Silence

A. Dear STS:

Your new project manager laces her speech with sexually taboo words. It disturbs you because you do not think such language appropriate in an office setting. Moreover, she has linked this kind of language is adjectivally to engineers and on one occasion might have been overheard cussing by a customer.

The f-word is common parlance to many individuals. Even those in high office, such as President Nixon, have spiced their conversations with such. You, like I, probably grew up being taught that words like that are to be avoided, especially in public exchange. The truth is that such words themselves really do not hurt anyone. Rather it is the attitude of insult expressed in verbal abuse that hurts, such as you suggest this project manager used to discount the value of the engineers.

This said does not ignore the fact that you and some customers might be offended and would prefer to take your business elsewhere where such language is not present.

What to do? Have you considered a conversation with this individual in which you tell her you do not think such language should be the norm in your office and that it should not be used to demean co-workers in your company? Oh you have; I assume because you stated that you fear confrontation?

Would you prefer rather to report such behavior to your VP and then have it get back to this project manager that you complained about her language? I doubt that you would find this preferable.

Perhaps, it is time for your work group to discuss:

The way co-workers speak to each other and about each other is a matter of good business. Feeling guilty about not defending one's coworkers when they are demeaned is something you should feel guilty about. You should commend yourself for such feelings. Guilt has its value. It prompts us to act.

WEGO grows out of promptings to speak up for what we feel is good business..

Bill Gorden