How to Diplomatically Deal with Unprofessional People
Is it just me or has our society become more unprofessional over time?
Are the days long gone when people made it a point to return phone calls, reply to emails and show up for scheduled appointments?
What’s changed over the years such that more and more businesspeople don’t extend that professional courtesy?
Before I go any further, let’s get on the same page with what “unprofessional” means, shall we?
Merriam Webster’s definition of unprofessional is: not exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, or generally businesslike manner in the workplace.
Sounds reasonable enough, right?
Given that definition, I’m amazed at how often I meet people who would win gold for being an extraordinary unprofessional person.
Case in point…
I recently met not one, but two gentlemen who were overachievers in the unprofessional department. While I would love to give a big shout out to them by their first and last name, they shall remain anonymous because that’s what a professional content writer would do.
While each man had a very different business opportunity to present to me, both experiences were very similar.
For starters, both guys contacted me to discuss a long-term, lucrative copywriting opportunity. Both piqued my interest, so I met each of them in person to discuss the same. One of them lived way out in LaGrange, Texas… a 90-minute drive one way.
Both meetings went well, and everyone was excited to get started. The day after I met each guy, they both started peppering me with a lot of emails and text messages, giving me links to this, that and the other as it pertained to their businesses.
Doing my due diligence, I spent some time looking at what they sent me to familiarize myself with what they had going on, what they offered to their customers, the resources they gave me, etc.
Now, as a results-driven copywriter and marketing strategist, I’m curious about everything, so I ask a lot of questions and I like to get as many answers as possible. I thrive on details, love clarity and communicate often. Those proactive traits make any project run a whole lot smoother with less mistakes to be made. Wouldn’t you agree?
Going the extra mile, I spent a considerable amount of time putting together a detailed spreadsheet of potential partnership profits for the LaGrange guy. I was curious to know what those yields would look like and thought he would be interested in having that valuable information too.
I contacted each of them on a regular basis to ask them what kind of copy they needed in an effort to keep the ball rolling. That seemed a little backwards to me since they reached out to me for my copywriting expertise, but I obliged nonetheless…
Sadly, they didn’t because I got no response from either of them. Things that make ya go hmmm…
I sent the LaGrange guy a detailed proposal and asked him what his thoughts were.
Still, no response.
Weeks have gone by and I still haven’t heard back from either one of them.
Any entrepreneur will tell you that their time is extremely valuable to them. After all, time is money, right?
A professional businessperson would’ve handled those scenarios much differently.
Being Professional Means That You Are:
· Courteous. When you’ve established a business relationship with someone, take a few minutes of your time to reply to their emails, voice mails and text messages. It literally would only take a couple minutes to a) acknowledge receipt of the person’s email; b) let them know you’re working on it and you’ll be in touch soon or c) advise that you went in another direction and won’t need their help. Seriously, that’s so simple and easy to do, a five-year-old could do it in a blink of an eye.
· Conscientious. You believe in the Golden Rule and you treat others as you want to be treated. Imagine for a moment that you just had a cancer biopsy test and you were anxiously waiting for the results from your doctor’s office. How would you feel if they didn’t take a couple minutes to call you with the results? Some people may say that that’s totally different, but it’s not. It’s simply a matter of being conscientious and treating others with the respect they deserve no matter what profession you’re in.
· Working in a generally businesslike manner. I understand that even the most well-intentioned people get insanely busy sometimes and things fall through the cracks. Or maybe they get sidetracked and plumb forget to do things. Still others may have piles of paperwork on their desk and be so disorganized, they can’t see straight (let alone think straight). It happens to the best of us. However, when a business associate periodically follows up with you on a project that was discussed at length, blatantly ignoring that person is not an admirable businesslike manner.
So, how do you handle careless people like the two guys I recently encountered?
Here Are My Top 3 Tips for Diplomatically Dealing with Unprofessional People:
1. Stay calm, cool and collected. Maintaining even a little bit of self-control goes a long way in preventing more problems to arise. The less reactive you are, the more good judgment you’ll have to handle the situation professionally.
2. Move from being reactive to proactive. This will reduce the chance of things getting misinterpreted and misunderstood. Like Eldridge Cleaver said, “If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.” Focus your energy on solving the problem rather than fixating on the problem.
3. Pick your battles and fly like a butterfly (or an eagle). Some people are simply not worth your time, effort or energy. Your time is valuable and, if you’re an entrepreneur, time is money, so unless there’s something big and important at stake, don’t waste your time by trying to get someone to be more professional. Simply move on and enjoy the peace of mind you’ll get in the process.
So you may be wondering what happened to the two here-today-gone-tomorrow guys that briefly graced my life.
Well, after taking the high road like any true professional would do, I silently said, “God bless ‘em… next.” I chalked it up as another learning experience and secretly thanked my two unprofessional teachers for teaching me to be more discerning, intuitive and setting better boundaries going forward.
In our fast-paced business world where it’s super easy to ignore a business associate’s attempts at doing business, getting answers and moving the needle, just remember how you’d feel if you were eagerly waiting for someone at your doctor’s office to call you with the results of your cancer biopsy test and they didn’t.
Now imagine how much better all our lives would be if we got back to the basics and demonstrated what it means to be a true business professional today.
CHEERS to all you awesome professionals out there...
And may those repeat offenders in the unprofessional department who are reading this right now (you know who you are) experience spontaneous enlightenment here and now.
Article written by Shelli Schilke – Write Attractions
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