5 Habits That Make Us Look Unprofessional

At least once in 2 years, I am running a 360 Feedback Survey for myself. No, my employer doesn’t require this. I am doing it purely for my interest and benefit.

Running 360 Feedback Survey is the most rewarding moment in my professional development. I can see the feedback, which my team doesn’t share every day with me. Feedback which is purely dedicated to me, my professional, and personal traits. It’s like looking in the mirror, which is 100 times more clear than usual. I love it! This helps me see myself more realistically and build up my growth plan in a better way.

As a Talent Management & People leader, I’ve been running the same 360 surveys for teams I was working within the last 12 years. Most of the time people are very excited to see the results and finally figure our how others “see them”. Sometimes, for people who are defensive to feedback, 360 results are torture ๐Ÿ™‚

With every 360 I’ve done for my self or others I learned more about what people percept as “professionalism”, how they assess this judging from behavior and attitudes. So here is my list of most common habits which can make us look unprofessional.

5 habits that make us look unprofessional

  1. Giving everyone advice. Acting as “guru”.  Know it all. 

After you gave someone a piece of advice, just for a few seconds, try to remember if you been asked for that advice.

It happens now and then that we have people on the team who always have something to say and share their wisdom so vitally needed to others (as they think). But usually, it works the way that when people didn’t ask for advice they are not perceptive to one.

So if now you feel a little confused and offended because this is YOU who have so much to share with people and you think you help them in this way, here is my advise for you ๐Ÿ˜‰ People will be much more perceptive if you share your success as “your” success and give them the choice to use your advice or not.

That’s why even a little change in wording usually helps me: instead of the message like this: “If you want to become successful, you have to do 1,2,3”“To become more productive do journaling, planning, etc” I would try to say: “There are 3 things that helped me with my success: 1,2,3. I can share what I know about this. Don’t be afraid to ask me” and “I tried journaling and planning for 5 months and now I can say with confidence – I can do 2 times more things by the end of the day. Would you like me to share more?” 

2. Being unspecific. Not doing our research / no data to prove our words.

“We have worked many hours to release this version”. “Our revenue had slightly decreased in Q1”. “We drastically changed our processes in operations”. What do you think? If this is a part of your colleague’s report, what practical information did you get out of this?

Sometimes we don’t even know how to measure things we are talking about, sometimes we didn’t have enough time to prepare, etc.

Let’s look at one case:

Weekly catch up in a small team. The marketing manager says the following: “We experienced that interest to our product had visibly risen last week”. Questions appear right away: “How did we experience this?”, “Where is this information from”, “What does it mean “an interest visibly risen”?” etc. Eventually, we get to know, that Customer Support got a bigger number of requests from the site with questions about the product. Questions were focused on product functionality. But after all the questions were answered, none of those people moved forward to start using the product. And when the team looked into customer support requests, they concluded that marketing made communication, which attracted the wrong audience in the first place. 

So from the positive “the interest had risen to our product” at the beginning to the conclusion at the end, this marketing manager couldn’t be assessed as highly professional. 

3. Being negativeBeing defensive to ideas and feedback.

When we are used to frequently say “no” to things or when we react defensive to new ideas and others’ feedback, people will say we are “negative”.

And this also could be perceived as a lack of professionalism. I am not talking about a singular negative reaction to a new idea, which happened some time ago once. I am talking about behavior patterns, something which happens often & constantly.

One of the managers I know is willing to hire people with a sense of humor. This means to him that the person could go through any situation with a positive attitude.

Others would say, that a professional person should be reasonable, with a strong common-sense attitude, knowing when to say “no” and when to say “yes”. But we should always have a reason for our decision and be able to explain this reason to everyone involved.

4. Discussing too much private stuff at the workplace. Mixing personal and professional.

At Readdle, the most amazing company I am working at now, we are used to knowing husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, brothers, and parents of our co-workers. And we love it! For us, the job is not just “a job” and a team is not only a “group of colleagues”. We always invite our +1s to the most important company celebrations, travel together, and go for nights out.

Sounds like we are all “unprofessional?” ๐Ÿ™‚

We just know what is appropriate when. We truly love our extended “team” together with all the spouses, but when it comes to confidential business information or an important business negotiation, this is only the place for us to be co-workers at our workplace. Professionals.

An example: Imagine a case, when your co-worker just met someone amazing and fell in love. This is a strong and very beautiful feeling, which we usually want to share with the whole world! If your co-worker can’t control emotions and shares details of the last date during the workday, there will be some people who might review this guy on the next “peer-to-peer” as unprofessional. 

But if this very guy, who has a great bonding with the team, is discussing it during an evening beer outside the office with the same co-workers, would we have any objections? I don’t think so.

5. Openly complaining about the management or your boss. 

So we’ve all been there. Not all the bosses in my professional life were perfect either.

And I am not saying we are “not allowed” to feel not satisfied with our management or being frustrated or feeling undervalued. But the “professional approach” here would be discussing the issue directly with those, who can change the situation or provide you with the real help:

  • Your boss
  • The boss of your boss
  • HR / Talent department

From my experience, the “unprofessional habit” is more about complaining in the first place. Complaining is not an effective action, it usually doesn’t solve the problem, but even making it worse. So when frustration happens, I would more likely to look where I can address the issue to, who can help me solve this. Rather than looking for a sympathetic ear to complain to.

These are only the 5 most common habits I’ve shared with you. The list is unfortunately longer. But what I like about habits, even when they are “unprofessional”, that we can change them! No one has been born with them built-in ๐Ÿ˜‰

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