Marie's Answer: As a peer, you can’t order your uncouth colleague to stop swearing, and her boss apparently doesn’t care. So you need to find a different strategy. Here’s what to do:
• Group action usually has more impact than an individual complaint. If others share your concern, return with them to HR and ask for enforcement of some reasonable language guidelines.
• However, if you are the only one upset, then you and your co-workers have different standards. Curses can range from mild exclamations, like "damn" or "hell" to the more truly colorful expletives. People vary greatly in what they find offensive.
• If you lack support from either or colleagues, your only hope is to ask for a personal favor. Hinting hasn’t worked, so consider a more direct approach.
• To reduce defensiveness, present a request instead of a criticism. For example: “I know you may find this silly, but four-letter words make me very uncomfortable. They don’t bother everyone, but they really do bother me. I would greatly appreciate it if you could tone down the language when I’m around.”
If you say this in a friendly manner, keeping the focus on your own feelings, your cursing colleague might just surprise you by cleaning up her act.
For more Office Coach suggestions on resolving workplace issues, check out The Best Way to Complain about Co-workers.
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