Some things that seem like no big deal might actually be hurting your professional relationships. I crowd sourced a few office mates to learn what makes them immediately question another person’s credibility. Here are some common offenses in no particular order:
1. An addiction to electronics: Though I maintain that this list is in no particular order, it especially grinds my gears when people focus on their smart phones in meetings. You’re busy. I get it. We all have a lot going on, but ignoring the people who are physically with you is rude.
2. Questionable phone etiquette: This can include:
- Being too forward with someone you don’t know well, e.g. sharing inappropriate personal information or using profanity
- Answering your business phone with any greeting other than your name or the name of your company. No joke, I’ve actually had someone pick up the phone at a business and say, “What do you want?”
- Losing your temper
- Not muting yourself on conference calls, forcing everyone else to listen to your background noise
3. Under-communicating: People shouldn’t have to hunt you down for answers or updates. If you’re in charge of a project or process, be sure to keep key colleagues up-to-date on progress. Never assume that people fully understand what’s needed from them if you haven’t explained the what, when and why.
When in doubt, over-communicate. I would always rather be annoying than miss a deadline or lose a deal thanks to wrong or insufficient information.
4. Badmouthing co-workers: Just don’t do it – not to bosses, or clients, or fellow employees. There’s a big difference between delivering constructive criticism to someone’s face and berating them behind their back. The first can be a relationship-builder while the latter is almost always a credibility-killer.
5. Always a fire: We’ve all heard the story of the boy who cried wolf. If you call me in a panic, I’ll believe it’s an emergency once, twice, maybe even the first three times. But if your life is on fire every time we talk, I’m going to suspect that the problem lies with your time management skills more than with legitimate deadlines.
A former colleague once told me, “A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”
As the years pass, I find myself reflecting on his wise words more and more.
6. Misspelled or poorly-worded written communication: If someone has to read your email two or more times to understand what you want, they’ll likely give up and just call you, which leads into our final point.
7. No contact information in email signature: We’ve all been there. You need to get ahold of someone quickly, so you pull up their last email for a direct line only to find,
“All my best, Bob”
I wish you the best too, Bob. Unfortunately you’ve just forced me to go rooting through my contacts to find your phone number. This might sound like a petty complaint, but it can be really annoying in time-sensitive situations.
Looking back it pains me to remember the times I’ve made some of these mistakes and I’m sure many others. You live and learn is what they say, and now we’d love to learn from you. Is there anything – big or small – that makes you immediately question someone’s professionalism or credibility?