(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY – Is it okay to curse at work? The short answer is sure, why not? The long answer is another story entirely. It depends on a lot of factors, such as where, in what situations, how frequently, how does it fit with your company’s culture, and is that the image you want to project?

Before we get into when colorful language is and isn’t okay at work, let me give you a little background. I grew up in a place where cursing was a way of life. I could probably teach a class on cursing in inner city pop culture, if there were such a thing.

In the high-tech industry, I found a pretty mixed bag when it comes to colorful language. Some people were famously foul-mouthed, some never swore, and there was a whole bell curve of gray in between. In any case, it was pretty well accepted, back in the day.

But as I climbed the corporate ladder and now, looking back on it, I see things quite a bit differently. Of all the successful CEOs, executives, VCs and entrepreneurs I’ve worked with over the decades, most were good communicators who expressed themselves quite well. They rarely cursed and, when they did, it was with good reason and in reasonable situations. In other words, it never seemed out of place, unprofessional or off-putting.

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