Anthony Scaramucci's short-lived term as White House communications director raises a serious question that impacts everyone in the workforce.

When is colorful language appropriate, and when does it become unprofessional?

Scaramucci resigned a few days after a profanity-filled interview with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza was published.

"In the vast majority of cases, using unprofessional," says Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

"This is also typically the case when job seekers are looking for work and posting on social media.

"In fact, according to a recent Challenger survey, 60% of recruiters said vulgar language on social media was 'most problematic' when vetting a candidate.

"With 80% of recruiters turning to social media as a means of vetting is clear that, at least for the time being, it is better to keep digital footprints PG."

(Note also, however, that the use of social media as a source of data for evaluating job candidates has its pros and cons.)

Coworker Interactions

In-person interactions between coworkers are a different story.

According to an article in The New York Times, profane language at work can have its advantages.

For example, vulgar language can act as a social connector between coworkers and help them vent about day-to-day frustrations.

Millennials may contribute to a more profanity-friendly work environment.
"Using cuss words every once in a while at work is very human, and coworkers will see that and relate to it, which strengthens bonds and creates sympathy," says Challenger.

Despite any potential benefits, however, many companies still feel extremely negative about profanity.

According to a 2012 CareerBuilder survey, 64% of employers said they would think less of an employee who repeatedly uses curse words, and 57% said they'd be less likely to promote someone who swears in the office.

The same survey found that 81% of employers believe profane language makes employees seem unprofessional; more than two-thirds (68%) feel it demonstrates a lack of maturity, and 54% say swearing at work makes an employee appear less intelligent.

Generational Effect

That said, millennials may contribute to a more profanity-friendly work environment.

According to an article published by the Chicago Tribune, millennials are more inclined to use profanity at the office and less likely to be bothered by colorful language compared to their older counterparts.

Discussing coworkers in the manner Scaramucci used, in a public setting, is a huge knock to many workplaces.

It paints a picture of a highly unprofessional and divided workplace, ultimately impacting morale across the company.

"Moreover, professionalism is key to maintaining a positive brand image in most workplaces, and employers may take using profanity as a sign that those employees do not respect the mission of the company or their coworkers," says Challenger.