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With cursing, consistency is key

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SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Small Business — tracks feedback from small-business owners. We run the poll question each Thursday in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: USA TODAY published an article about the popularity of profanity in book titles. Would you purchase a business book with profanity in the title?

  • No, business and profanity should never mix: 45.08%
  • Maybe, it would depend: 31.09%
  • Sure, if the content is good, why not?: 23.83%

While “no” was the majority reply, the number of “maybe” responses makes this a toss-up.  I can certainly see how semantics might drive the decision.  Maybe there are words considered profane by some and not by others.  In addition, a business’ culture must be taken into consideration.  If you have an employee handbook that forbids the use of profanity; how do you tell your leadership team to read the latest business book with profanity in the title — or in the content?

Ultimately, this isn’t about being for or against profanity.  It’s about staying true to your beliefs and sending a consistent message.

Sharlyn Lauby is the HR Bartender and president of ITM Group.