3 Easy Ways to Say “I’m Unprofessional”

Do you care what people think about you? Of course you do.We live in an age of easy access to information.  This access gives your customers a multitude of choices as to where to get their needs met.What separates you from your competitor?It’s not the quality or cost of your product or service.  It’s the quality of the experience you create in the mind of your customer.   How do they see you? What do they think and (more importantly) feel?

Coming across as a professional is a given.  If you want to achieve any degree of success, professionalism is key to your credibility.Here are three easy ways to say “I’m unprofessional.”

1. Show up late and don’t acknowledge it.

There’s a reason that Woody Allen said “80% of success is showing up.” Timeliness is the easiest thing to measure.  You’re either there or not.Time is also the rarest and most valuable resource.  You can get money back, but you can’t get back precious minutes that get wasted.  When you’re late, you break the most basic of social contracts.  Not only does time disappear–so does trust and confidence.Promptness is a habit to be cultivated.  That said, there will be times when you may show up late.  If you can get let people know in advance, that can mitigate some of the damage.  It shows a level of consideration.  If you can’t get in touch and show up late, own it quickly and directly.  Your behavior has already been registered. If you don’t say anything, you get an additional strike against you on the running tab of your credibility.

2. Make a statement that shows you really don’t understand their world.

Recently, I was on a conference call with a group of regional employees.  Their company had just hired a vendor to install a new enterprise-wide software platform , and the call was the initial training for the employees.The vendor’s office is about thirty minutes away from the home office of this company.   All of the regional employees on the call were remote, calling in from different locations all over North America.As soon as the vendor got on the call, he said “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there in person with you today.  I was at the office for a meeting last week, and it sure is a great facility.”Immediately, it was clear that he had no idea who he was talking to, or where they were.  If that wasn’t bad enough, as he started to explain features of the platform, there were numerous software design issues that hadn’t factored in remote use.   The group found the call completely demoralizing.

3. Use re-purposed materials that haven’t been edited and proofed.

There’s a famous story about the time that Stephen Curry, the NBA basketball player, switched his sneaker endorsement from Nike to Under Armour.In August of 2013,  Curry (who was still an up and coming player at not yet an All-Star) met with Nico Harrison, a sports marketing director at Nike to renegotiate his contract.A number of things went wrong during the meeting.  One of the Nike reps present kept pronouncing Stephen’s name wrong.  Nike refused to offer Curry a development camp.However, the thing that killed the deal was when Nike showed Curry and his team a PowerPoint slideshow as part of the pitch. One of the slides had Kevin Durant’s name on it.  They’d used an old deck.Curry left Nike, and signed with Under Armour.  It’s estimated that Curry’s value to the Under Armour brand is currently about more than $14 Billion.Nike isn’t a lone wolf in this arena.  Many clients have received proposals, contracts, and other materials that have been reused but not revised.  Nothing says “HACK!” like sending out these types of documents.3 easy ways to say “I’m Unprofessional”.  The cure?  It starts with being prepared.

What are other easy ways to say “I’m Unprofessional”?   Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Leave a Comment

Connect with Alain


I am interested in...
(please select all options that apply)*

I can be reached at...

What would you like Alain to know about your role and/or organization, and what you'd like to achieve?