”The official phrase of Star Wars day (also known as Jedi day) which is on May 4th. Its synonymous to "may the force be with you", which is said in Star Wars a lot.” If you knew this already, you are probably not part of the Baby Boomer Generation, but likely are part of the younger generations with all the XYZ names.
And if you not only know it, but use this phrase and others like it, some of your co-workers may not understand your reference or appreciate it.
So what, you say? If they don’t understand the slang or jargon you use, they could be offended by it, it could embarrass them if they misinterpret it, or it could make them angry that they are not able to follow your meaning. That causes some people to stop trying to communicate with you, and if that person is your boss, or a co-worker you work closely with, it can cause you trouble.
In fact, there have been scientific studies on the effect of using slang or jargon with employees. Here’s a quote from one of them: “the use of jargons makes employees feel irritated and left out, hence they end up misunderstanding whatever has been communicated to them and that affect individual productivity as well as the organization’s productivity and its profit margin.” (The Impact of Using Many Jargon Words, while Communicating with the Organization Employees Ngueviuta Patoko, Rashad Yazdanifard)
Most people develop an almost dual language style. There’s how they speak with their friends and there’s how they speak at work. In most customer-facing positions, it is necessary to use a more formal language than the one used visiting with friends, the same thing goes when you are talking to co-workers in a business venue - regardless of how you speak to each other outside of work. More than anything else it is a matter of respect for the other person and a necessity to keep business relationships more formal.
Another article regarding language at work says this: A bad day at the office could heighten emotions among workers, and some could mutter in frustration: “He (or she) screwed up!” “This sucks!” or “I’m pissed off!” According to Boston-based workplace behavior expert Beverly Flaxington, author of Understanding Difficult People: The Five Secrets of Human Behavior (ATA Press, 2010), “screwed,” “sucks” and “pissed” are slang terms associated originally with a sexual act or bodily function.
“Even though people say these terms in everyday life, they do not belong in the office,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “Many employees—particularly older employees—are offended by such language.”
Everybody slips - when you slip into unprofessional language at work, it is important to acknowledge the slip and apologize - especially if one of your fellow workers pointed it out. Keep in mind that you may not get a verbal reminder that your language was not appreciated, a raised eyebrow, or a slight wince or frown may be all that you get. Be aware of that non-verbal feedback, it will help you in many circumstances.
Going back to “May the Fourth Be With You” - that’s not offensive language, it’s not really totally unprofessional language - but it is not formal enough for most business occasions. Check your conversations at work for a few days - how are you communicating?