Every so often, one gets to hear this word in our fast paced corporate lives – “unprofessional.” There has been, and continues to be a whole lot of debates and discussions about what qualifies as professional and what qualifies as unprofessional behaviour in the workplace. However, no matter what side you are on in the debate, you will agree with us when we say there are certain non-negotiables when it comes to the world of work. We believe that at the very least, these five qualities definitely embody unprofessional behaviour in the workplace and must be avoided at all costs.
1. The Late Kate/Ken –
One of the most severely unprofessional qualities is not having respect for punctuality. “Being late” is shockingly acceptable in our society, and work culture. Not turning up on time, more than anything else reflects your absolute lack of respect for the other person’s time. No matter what your reason is, when you end up being late, you communicate your express disrespect for the other person’s time and interest. If you are running late, make sure you communicate the reason and your Expected Time of Arrival (ETA) as early as you can.
2. The Gossip Monger –
It is definitely not alright to discuss anything remotely connected to your colleagues’ private lives, at the workplace. Neither is it acceptable to propagate false and unfounded tales about anyone. This is mostly an attention seeking technique used by some. What they often fail to realize is, by being this person, they do more harm to themselves than anybody else. Also, they may pretend to like you (read: the gossip monger), but you may actually end up being very lonely.
3. The Tell-tale –
If you know something concerning another colleague, who is not comfortable about the information being made public, respect him/her enough to keep it to yourself. Understand that you have access to the said information either through an act of trust, or by accident. In both cases, you have no right to share the information with anyone who isn’t supposed to have knowledge about the same. Bite your tongue if you have to, but keep it to yourself. Another attribute of this personality is also to avoid confrontation in case of conflict, but talk about it to people who are not concerned. The best way, is to follow a method of proactive conflict resolution.
4. The Know-it-All –
Remember Hermione from Harry Potter? Yes she was a hero and all, but let’s face it, she could be kind of annoying with her “know-it-all”, attitude. Be humble about the knowledge you possess, and willing to share it freely and openly with people who would benefit from it. You can do so by making an effort to be approachable, yet modest. Knowledge is power ? That’s passé now.
5. The Dominator –
Is it always your way or the highway? The quality of dominating, or being a bully doesn’t suit anyone at the work place. Not even your boss or you as a boss. Suggest, don’t impose. There is great merit in learning the value of team work, and doing so in a peaceful and inclusive manner. You dominate when you assume that you know the best way. By doing so you not only create discord, but also inhibit your own learning process.
One could debate that there is a lot more to this list. Of course, the point of view is thoroughly subjective. We suggest taking a long hard look at the mirror too (we do that periodically ourselves!) and see if you are guilty as well of any of the above examples of unprofessional behaviour. Acknowledge that there are some things that you haven’t been doing in the best way you can, and that is the first step to change. Engage in proactive methods to bring out the best you have to offer, at your work place, and beyond. Dialogue, awareness and openness to constructive criticism are some of the best ways to go about it! Understand that by changing yourself, you create a lot of positive change for yourself as a person, and also for your organization.
What else do you think qualifies as unprofessional behaviour at the workplace ? What do you do when you see these qualities around you ? Fight or flight ? We would love to hear back and learn from you.
Image Courtesy: Centre for Professional Excellence