Sales Strategies

What The F#@% – The Excessive Use of Profanity on Business Calls

I’m no Mother Teresa and I have certainly dropped my share of f-bombs in my lifetime. But there seems to be an increased (alarming) amount of profanity on business calls these days.

Last month, I was driving in my car with my two children when my phone rang. I answered it via Bluetooth.

It was a young salesperson calling asking for help. Knowing that the Millennial generation has a tendency to use profanity, I said to this salesperson “I’m in my car and my children are with me. They can hear everything you are saying because you are on Bluetooth.” (translation: Keep it clean!)

I asked, “So, how was your week?”

His reply (over Bluetooth), “It was fucking shit.”

I reminded him (again) “Um, you are on speaker phone. My kids can hear everything you say.”

Clueless. It never registered with this young man that it was disrespectful for him to use profanity in front of my kids.

After I ended the call, I thought to myself He is 25 years old. I am 47. I could not imagine ever using that language with a mentor when I was his age (or ever!) – with or without children present. Does he not know better?

A few weeks later, an old colleague called me out of the blue asking about my Referral Selling online training course for his sales organization.

I hadn’t talked to him in 15 years.

First words out of his mouth were “How the fuck have you been, Kate?”

When I asked about his sales team and how they were performing, his reply was “It’s a shit show around here. Nobody has their shit together. I don’t know what the fuck to do with them.”

Alrighty then.

Is it just me? Am I way too June Cleaver on the profanity thing? Or have we become way too lax with profanity in business?

Tips For Conducting a Professional Business Call


Use language your grandma would be okay with hearing.

Speak Professionally. In the above example when the young salesperson had a rough week, he easily could have chosen to say, “I had a really tough week and my sales stunk.”

Speak Respectfully. In the above example where I talked to an old colleague, he easily could have used the language, “Hey Kate, how have you been? Haven’t seen you in a while? I wanted to reach out to you because my sales team has been struggling and I am at the end of my rope trying to help them.”

Don’t reference politics or political leaders in meeting or on calls. It’s just not smart considering how polarized our country has become. Nobody has ever changed their political party because of a comment made at a business meeting. Nobody.


The most respected leaders in history and business haven’t been foul-mouthed, offensive people.

Were there choice moments where they possibly let off some steam? Sure.

But the vast majority of their language has been respectful, professional and kind.

So next time any of you call me, please talk to me like you are talking to your grandma. 🙂



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