A couple of times in the first 10 minutes he used fairly mild swear words as part of his presentation. These didn’t seem to be out of place per say although they did make me consciously aware that he had just sworn to his audience. However, when he got to his point about clients phoning and giving out vacancies he used the phrase "Well F**k Me", not once but twice. He then went on to use the “F” word at least twice more.
I should say that when it comes to swearing I am not exactly an angel myself!
What made this so unusual was the setting in which the trainer had decided it was appropriate to use such strong language. He was speaking to a room of virtually complete strangers, some of whom are high level HR Directors and recruiters working for multi-nationals as well as owner managers of smaller recruitment agencies such as myself. He had no idea who anyone in the room was or what their sensitivities were for use of this strong language.
I sensed that he wanted to use the language to almost stun his audience into waking up or listening more closely or to simply shock us into action.
His point was a very valid one and one I had not really thought of before (going off a tangent here - stay with me!) which is that when a client phones us completely out of the blue with a permanent vacancy you could almost guarantee that:
- The vacancy is complete and utter rubbish and will involve something like a requirement for an Oxford educated solicitor speaking fluent Lithuanian solicitor who wants to work in Bognor Regis and get paid £6 an hour,
- The lawyer phoning us will almost certainly have called another 10 agencies who will almost immediately proceed to call the same candidates and annoy them all tremendously and
- Even when you find them the perfect candidate (having achieved the impossible) the firm will then decide they don’t wish to recruit because the whole thing was an exercise being run to see what would happen if they did decide to recruit.
I was fascinated by what the trainer had to say and a colleague from my company went on one of this chap's headhunting courses many years ago and came back armed with lots of CDs and extras which I spent time listening to and found very useful. However I would hesitate before booking onto one of his courses again because I thought it undermined his professionalism to use this type of language in that type of setting.
So the question is, is it ever appropriate or acceptable to swear to a client or on a course?
I lectured at Huddersfield University for about 5 years, giving LPC students advice on CVs and interview technique. In that time I don’t think I ever swore once and I think if I had sworn I would have felt mortified afterwards. It simply would not have felt appropriate to swear whilst giving a course.
I used to work as a criminal defence solicitor (when pay was just appalling rather than impossible to live on).
However I don’t think I ever swore to a client because I felt (and still do feel) that if I had done this I would have been considered less of a lawyer in their eyes. They hadn’t come to me for advice because I was a friendly person who was on the same wave length as them and could get down with the boys and use as much bad language as they did, they came to see me because I was a qualified professional and respected member of society (regardless of what politicians try to paint as an alternative picture of solicitors).
The same applies when I work as a recruitment consultant. If I know a candidate well then my language may be slightly less formal, but for everyone else I deal with I try to have the same level of professionalism that I did as a solicitor.
I could only see one circumstance when it would be acceptable to swear and that would be when quoting someone else or to get over a particular point in a story. Personally I cannot see any other reason why you would want to use such strong language either with client or with professionals on a training course.
You may beg to differ with this and I would welcome any comments.
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