I hesitated on writing on this subject but when I saw Michael Hyatt’s Podcast: The Danger of Dirty Words, pop up in my inbox I knew I had to share. I have not played his Podcast yet. I wanted to share my thoughts on this without focusing on what I’m sure is thought-provoking information from Michael. I’d like to share three real-life examples with you below of how profanity can overshadow you and your presentation.

I listened to a free webinar online. The materials could be related to what you do in ministry or business. I blocked out the 90 minute window of time on my busy schedule, grabbed my pad, pen and a hot cup of tea and was prepared to soak in some good stuff.  I had not listened to this person previously but the advertisement looked helpful.  Information at the beginning of the webinar was informative but within about 15 minutes the person began to use profanity.  I continued to listen and the language continued and intensified. It was very distracting to her message.  I ultimately left the free webinar after 30 minutes.  I didn’t pursue anything else that had been sent to my inbox and ultimately removed myself from their subscribers list. Why? Because right or wrong first impressions do matter especially in business or ministry.  I couldn’t absorb the content she was offering because most of her sentences consisted of profanity. While she might be good at what she does, my choice was to leave the webinar. Perhaps others did as well. Perhaps she lost potential customers and sales.

In 2013 I was a part of a panel of women speaking at a conference to empower women on living triumphantly. One of the women at the event spoke with me afterwards and shared how blessed, empowered and encouraged she was by my presentation to live focused on the triumphs while learning from the trials.  She began to share with me that she used to speak publicly and then one day the offers stopped. She’d send out her information and receive declines. She began to pray about why and about what to do. She shared her heart with a good friend who loved her enough to be honest and told her that it was her language.  It took a good friend to point out to her that while people loved her personally and she had so much to offer to women, her language was almost unbearable.  While it hurt her deeply to hear this she said that it was a positive and challenging turning point for her life.

A number of years ago I was invited to attend a luncheon with a keynote speaker. Her bio was interesting.  Her smile was beautiful. She was dressed in a beautiful dress in a color that matched perfectly with her blue eyes.  She thanked everyone for the opportunity to be there and she began her presentation.  Shortly thereafter, out of her mouth came a word that caused some to gasp, others appeared to shift awkwardly in their seat and some giggled nervously.  She continued throughout the message to speak in this manner. The shock value for some wore off but for others, their facial expressions said it all.  I sat praying silently for her and for the audience because I could discern that a large portion of the women were not pleased and the speaker didn’t sense the vibe in the room. At the end of her 45 minute presentation a few people applauded, several were silent–a few visited her product table but most didn’t buy. In the lobby, I could hear a few women uncomfortably commenting under their breath about her “saucy” language. Later, an email of apology by the event host was sent to all of us.  Perhaps her language affected her sales, her image and her ability to get more speaking requests particularly in certain venues.

This post is not to judge or condemn but to merely point out that profanity can hurt your ministry or business. It can also affect your friendships and how people interact with you.  How we present ourselves matters and language is one of those important areas because it’s our most used form of communication as people. It matters even more if you are someone who will be presenting in front of people. First impressions matter and all too often will make the difference between whether or not someone will listen to you again, buy your product or services, attend your conference, come to hear you speak, invite others to your event or service and so onProfanity can overshadow the person that you really are and it can overshadow your presentation, in other words your message–that which you really want people to know you for and to learn from you to help their lives be better. People will make decisions about who you are partially based on what others say about you but primarily based on their impression of you and typically that impression will begin to be formed right out of the gate.  In other words, as soon as they meet you.  Profanity can and most often will turn off some people and can cost you business or a relationship. We’d like to think that the opinions of others really doesn’t matter but in some cases it does especially if you are in a public arena where you are providing service/product.

I’ll give you one final example. I attended an annual event for women in business.  It was my second time attending. After a morning of listening to several speakers most of which were using the F-word and other curse words, by break time we all piled into the ladies room. I could hear several women (who didn’t even know each other or the speakers), begin to speak as if they had a common bond and they did, they were disgusted by the language of the Keynote and other speakers.  One lady said, “I’m no longer going to attend this. It’s getting worse each year.” Another woman made the decision to leave the paid function. Another woman advised that cursing didn’t really bother her but she didn’t think that professional venue was the time or place for it.  While they all had different positions on it, the point is, no one liked it.

This is not a commentary on whether or not cursing is right or wrong. It is to open dialogue or the thought that when people go to public professional or ministerial venues they are not expecting profanity but rather words that will build them up, instruct, teach, and empower.  For me personally, I’m reminded of this…Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

If you struggle in this area and you want to change here’s a few quick tips:

  • Meditate on Ephesians 4:29 and pray and ask God to help you in this area
  • Look at the root of why you use profanity. I believe there’s a root in anything that we think, say or do.
  • Ask someone who loves you to help you to be accountable in this area
  • Find other descriptive words that will replace the profanity and reflect the person you really want the world to see and hear.
  • Start putting your new language to practice
  • Remind yourself there is power in your words

Perhaps you’re someone who has had an experience you can share with me on this subject, if so please leave a comment in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.  Now, I’m off to go listen to Michael Hyatt’s Podcast to hear his perspective on this subject. Join me here: The Danger in Dirty Words

Cheering you on as we live our personal journey’s,