My Best Hate E-mail yet

by Evil HR Lady on September 21, 2010

One of the problems of having a presence on the web with an easily accessible e-mail address is that you sometimes get creepy or weird e-mails. I’m not talking about all the Nigerian Princesses who need help getting their $10,000,000 or something. I’m talking about men who send me their opinion about my picture (umm, thanks?), and other such things.

Well, I got this fabulous e-mail that I thought I would share with y’all. I presume it was in response to this article, Swearing at Work, although the writer did not provide a link or the title in the e-mail.

It had a “few” naughty words in it that I’ve helpfully change to “squid lips” so as to maintain the G rated feeling of this blog.

First off you are flat out wrong. You don’t swear, that’s great. However, you do not see me passing judgment on your intelligence now do you? Do you see me going; “Oh such a clean mouth I bet she high maintenance or stuck-up.”

I swear all the squid lips time and guess what; many people consider me intelligent. Are you seriously going to attempt to tell me that I don’t have a rich vocabulary because I use words like “squid lips”, “squid lips”, “squid lips”? How about you fix your lack of understanding; I don’t give a squid lip which words I use no matter how rich my vocabulary is. It’s really that simple.

You need to educate yourself; your puritan belief system is nothing but non-sense.

Isn’t that an awesome e-mail? I think the squid lips adds to it. And for the record, yes I think you’ve got problems. Anyone who doesn’t “give a squid lip” when picking their words is going to end up looking silly. Sure, lots of intelligent people swear. A lot of intelligent people also do a bunch of other things that aren’t that bright.

Go ahead and swear all you want, just don’t expect me to be impressed or cowed into changing my opinion.

(Oh, and by the way, comments with bad words in them will be deleted. I only have the option to delete or keep, not edit, so if my e-mail writer comes to defend himself/herself please feel free to use squid lips instead of whatever word you don’t think about, since word choice isn’t important to you.)

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina September 21, 2010 at 11:26 am

I swear all the time. But not at work. And there's a difference between someone who swears and a bully. This person sounds like the latter.

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QuestionAuthority September 21, 2010 at 11:58 am

"Squid lips?" LOL
I'll have to remember that one.

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Rick VanGameren September 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Only those who swear think it's ok to swear. Only those who don't shower think it's ok to stink. I agree with your stand on swearing (and then some), it doesn't belong in the workplace, it doesn't belong at home. It doesn't belong.

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Kerry Scott September 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm

That is squid-lipping precious.

Clearly dude is a total squid-lipping smartiac.

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Lildonbro September 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Squid lip! Squid lip! Squid Lip! I'm sticking to my Squid Lip Puritan beliefs!

I am on the younger end of the age scale at work and I have to admit that it's hard to maintain respect for someone who swears in the work place. Those are just the facts.

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Meredith September 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm

love it. love your opinion on it too! It is such a detractor from an intelligent person's message when they can't communicate with 'real' words.

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KellyK September 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I'm with you on not swearing at work. An occasional, "Aw squidlips!" is understandable if something surprising and unpleasant happens (spilling coffee on yourself, having your computer crash and lose hours of work, etc.). But just tossing around squidlips this and eelface that is both unprofessional and rude.

I do have a pretty severe potty mouth at home. But, hey, neither the spouse nor the cats complain, and I rein it in when there's someone around who might object.

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Allyson and Dave September 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I never swear…ever. My husband tries his best to provoke me into swearing and it never works. I do look at people who swear differently from those who don't. And it is my job to hire people.

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Kerry Scott September 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I swear all the time. I swore at work plenty. I still think the email is stupid.

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Anonymous September 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Our HR department just directed a manager's meeting about hostile work environments.

I know I'm not telling you anything new, but your other readers may need to know that cursing/swearing was specifically identified as breeding a hostile work environment. While it may convey the anger, pain, or frustration of the user, those around the user may be extremely offended, or afraid for their safety. It was stressed in our meeting that for managers to allow such instances to continue, could set the company up to be sued due to hostile work environment.

The profane emailer may need to reconsider how they choose to express themselves, or they may find themselves in the middle of a nasty little lawsuit.

Anyone can use the common four letter words. Finding alternate words requires intellect and a well established vocabulary.

Growing up, I was taught that only ignorant, trashy people curse, and polite society frowns on it.

Now I do sometimes swear when I'm upset or injured, but am working to correct that by using other words, so when I do stub my toe, I won't use a dirty word. "Sugar" and "fiddle" are favorites. I will have to add "squid lips" to my list of accepted alternatives!

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Rodolphe Mortreuil September 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm

My rule of thumb is: use the same language in every day work as you would at interview for the job you are doing.

I am guessing your writer didn't swear quite so much at interview.

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Mike September 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Your "fan mail" not withstanding, it's pretty silly to judge the intelligence or character of someone based on the occasional use of taboo vocabulary. I see a lot of the posters here are simply puritan in their beliefs and hold those beliefs as a way to distinguish themselves as morally superior to others.

Sure we should be respectful of others – no one older than a kindergartner believes differently. At the same time, we should not be so judgmental over such petty criteria.

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Katrina September 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Ha ha ha – the email content alone makes you seem like a donkey, without the added swearing!

You got all riled up over one lady's opinion post on one side of the internet? And then you actually sent an email about it?! I know she's Evil and all, but now you just seem unstable at best.

I'll bet you're a DREAM to work with!

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Breanne September 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

That is fantastic! When you get weirdo mail, you know you're doing something right! I actually developed a bad habit of swearing, but only amongst close friends. It's still a bad habit especially for a lady. I know that's a double standard, but it's a reality. I will say I know of a few women that can pull off the occasional swear word and be funny, but that's only because I respected them first. As a general rule, I agree that swearing muddles the quality of what someone says. Squid lips, on the other hand, gets a gold star!

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Evil HR Lady September 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I debated a long time on what word to use and am glad that squid lips has been a hit.

I'm totally laughing at the addition of eelface. Awesome.

Mike, I actually agree with you. The occasional swear word isn't a problem. E-mails like this one? Well, that's something that demonstrates a huge lack of judgment.

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Mike September 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Don't get me wrong, the e-mail was awesome. :)

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Evil HR Lady September 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I agree. I loved the e-mail so much I couldn't wait to share!

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Anonymous September 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Bad behavior, and the tolerance thereof, starts somewhere.

Is it not just as judgemental to view those who do not agree with swearing as "puritan?" What might be petty to some, could be paramount to others.

Being respectful of others, whether puritan or profane, is truly the key.

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Glenn Loq September 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I rarely, if ever, swear. But I don't think those that do are less intelligent, or less of anything, except courteous and considerate in their speech. But there are times when courtesy has its place, and times when it would be out of place. I'm not advocating for either. That's because I believe in description before prescription.

Which is why I believe in "semantic cessation". This is an observable phenomena. It's where the use of a foul word stops being "foul" when it's commonly accepted as something that's not foul, but just a word.

Semantic cessation is happening now with most "foul language". Indeed, you can tell by the context of the usage if the word is intended to be disrespectful or insulting. If the intent of the usage isn't to be disrespectful or insulting, context would tell you if the "foul language" is actually just "common speech" for something good'n'human, like an expression of comraderie. It all depends on context.

You may find it comical, but many of the people I've discussed this with in the past believe the issue against the use of foul language is one of classism alongside the history of a certain Western religious "moral" fixation. They used the common objections to foul language as examples of this bias ("How disrespectful!" is to classist as "How wrong!" is to a Western Religious "Moral" Fixation).

Now, is it still foul language if the words used are more than 8 letters long and were used frequently by our founding fathers? Is it the "words" or the "intentions"? Is it the "language" or the "context"? Personally, I'd focus on the latter — as a focus on the former seems a rabbit hole of a red herring.

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Matthew September 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Words matter. They actually MEAN something. Your choice of words reflects on your thought processes, feelings, and goals, as well as your level of care about those things in others.

In the business world, your words carry more weight than your accomplishments and your intentions. You can choose not to be sensitive to this. You can choose to ignore it. You can claim that it's not true (exhibiting ignorance or self-deception). But if you do, don't complain about "the man" keeping you down.

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jenmaree September 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Squid lips – love it! I'm neutral on swearing. If it's not directed toward someone, I'm okay with it. I do swear at times, but never at work. I do find it a bit unprofessional.

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Anonymous September 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I don't mind swearing (and my workplace is swear word friendly as long as it's not in a rude context–ie, it's okay to say "I don't want to squid lip up your project by doing this, so I'm checking with you first," but not okay to say "Squid lip you, you squid lip!") but I think the writer's attitude is all wrong.

He'd have made a good point had he simply said something like, "I have a unique skill set and am fortunate to be in demand in my industry even during an economic downturn. I would choose an employer who doesn't judge me by my squid lipping language over one who restricts the vocabulary I may use to express myself. Hiring managers should consider that many people feel that restrictions against swearing are excessive in this day and age, and that they may not be able to hire top talent if their employees' quality of life is restricted by rules governing their language."

So since he didn't make that point, I'll make it for him and send a "tsk, squid lipping tsk" to the letter writer for representing employees who swear as bullies rather than as the casual and friendly folks we usually are. All other things being equal, I would choose a workplace that doesn't mind the occasional swear word over one that micromanages language. However, I don't work in a field like education or customer service where language restrictions would be an obvious necessity.

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Joe Fox September 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I'm with many of my fellow squid-lippers here — I swear when I feel it adds to the conversation, not just for color. Puritan or not, some companies don't want it around. That's their choice. It's my choice to work for an organization where it's allowed (or to just generally avoid making it customer-facing).

Have to disagree with one post: Rick VanGameren said "it doesn't belong at home" — your opinion on that, one, sparky. What happens in people's homes is none of your starfish business — it's theirs and theirs alone. Had you said "it doesn't belong in my home" — okay, that's cool. In my home, you can say anything you want, and I'd prefer to let you speak your mind and be understood in whatever tongue and vocabulary you can make use of rather than limit you and risk misunderstanding or censoring you to the point where the value of what you're saying is lost.

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Gene September 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Leaving aside the fact that, other than Squidward Quincy Tentacles, squids have beaks, not lips, I will sometimes utter the occasional squid lips, eelface, or starfish. In my workplace it's not officially acceptable, but like Anonymous 7:49's. We will even congratulate someone on a particularly inventive use or combination. But our isolated office (a double-wide 300 yards from the closest other office) is composed of 5 males, all in their 50s and all except one were in the military in their younger days.

I would never use that language when dealing with one of our regulated users.

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ArtK September 22, 2010 at 3:54 am

Frankly, if Mr. Squid Lips wants to let us know that he's intelligent, he'll find a way to do it without swearing. Think of it as an intellectual exercise. How can you express yourself without resorting to random noise-words?

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QuestionAuthority September 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

You do know, Evil HR Lady, that squid have beaks, not lips…

"Squid beaks! squid beaks!"

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Evil HR Lady September 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I not only know about squid beaks, I know that said beak is the only hard part on a squid's body. So, if something is big enough to get a squid beak through, the whole squid can squish through.

This is handy to know if you are ever being chased by a squid.

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Elizabeth West September 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

This was hilarious!

I sometimes swear at work (it's a very bad habit, I know). I'm surrounded by guys who also swear and it's hard not to when they're doing it. I'm working on it, though, not just at work. Squid lips and eelface are going to be my new words, LOL.

One thing Anonymous said about hostile work environment surprised me. I never dreamed anyone could feel threatened by swearing unless it was directed at them (like if someone were yelling or speaking maliciously).

Just hearing it? Maybe it might make them uncomfortable, but threatened seems a bit oversensitive to me. Could that be explained in more detail? Then again, I've worked in a lot of factory settings, both on the floor and in the office, and perhaps I'm just used to it.

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Jamie September 22, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I agree with Elizabeth – hilarious!

This is amazing – for years being attacked by a giant squid has been #1 on my list of least favorite ways to die (between the razor sharp suction thingies and the beak…shudder). But I had no idea if the beak can fit they can follow.

I read management/business blogs daily and that's possibly the coolest and most interesting factoid I have read in a long time.

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negativefive September 22, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I said "OUCH" out loud on your special mention about the comment about your picture. I admit I did send you a comment about your USA Today and BNET picture. BTW, I am not CREEPY!! :)

I love the squidlips comment! Ha ha ha ha!

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TerpU82 September 22, 2010 at 10:26 pm

First I totally agree that swearing has no place at work. I would never swear, but I have noticed that as my superiors become more comfortable with me, a few of them use curse words more and more.

However they aren't abusive, nor are they directing it towards me. It seems that it is normal to use it infrequently where I work.

Yesterday however I was in a position where I had to approach a Director who I had never met before to let them know that something very large needed to be done very fast. That person became so angry at the situation, they began to curse heavily. Luckily there were a few apologies for the language, and it was heavily directed at the situation and not at me.

However I come away from the situation thinking to myself; "How unprofessional" and generally having a low first impression of the person. This is mostly directed at how they handled the pressured situation, but it would have gone a lot better I believe if there were no curse words involved.

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Val September 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I use to swear but never at work! I stopped swearing a while ago because I found out other people looked at me differently when I did swear. I did not want someone to judge me based off a couple of swear words…so I just stopped. It is not appropriate at work and I never thought it has been or never will be.

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KellyK September 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

One thing Anonymous said about hostile work environment surprised me. I never dreamed anyone could feel threatened by swearing unless it was directed at them (like if someone were yelling or speaking maliciously).

I think it depends a lot on the context. I've definitely felt thoroughly uncomfortable (though maybe personally threatened is too strong) when someone *else* got cursed out very loudly and publicly.

If it's not directed at a person, I think it depends on context. But other types of harrassment don't have to be directed *at* someone to be hostile (like having an inappropriate screensave rather than making inappropriate comments *to* someone).

Personally, I might feel mildly threatened if someone's swearing indicates that they have anger issues, even if they're not directing it at another person. (Say they're constantly growling about the stupid, squidding copier.)

But, what constitutes harrassment or a hostile workplace is dependent on the perceptions of the person experiencing it. As someone who's not bothered by swearing in most situations, I'm the wrong person to comment on how it would affect someone who finds that sort of language offensive.

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Anonymous September 24, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I don't tend to use curse words unless I'm really angry or frightened. I'm not bothered by people who are potty mouths in a lowkey private conversation. That said bad language in a "public" way is not a good idea in my profession. In construction work, mechanics, coaches and, professional golfers must have potty mouths or they lose their mandatory potty mouth memberships:) membership:)

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jzygail September 29, 2010 at 6:16 am

Why the squid lips doesn't Mr. (or Ms.) Potty Mouth know that nonsense is not a hyphenated word? Stooopid squid lips. (him, not you)

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CL May 6, 2014 at 7:14 pm

I think this is an issue specific to American culture. Back in Australia, it was pretty normal to hear swear words thrown around the office, and my workmates would greet each other affectionately using terms like “gday c**t” – not atypical for many Aussies, and certainly not offensive. (For context, I worked at a multinational media company and later a marketing company, so perhaps at a law firm standards might be different. Either way, I’ve quickly learnt that American offices don’t take kindly to young ladies dropping c-bombs or f-bombs at work…culture shock.)

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violin rosin June 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm

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