Social media and, especially, blogging is so relaxed. We speak our minds, we air our views and we type like we talk. It’s all part of the charm, isn’t it? But then, when it’s time to act professional, sometimes we miss the mark.
Now, I’m no prude, but when did things like excessive swearing or innuendo become acceptable conversation and business practice simply because it suits a blogger’s personality? Also, when did we stop thinking about the tone and words we use when getting a point across? And, finally, what’s with showing up at professional conferences wearing the type of clothes we work out in. Yeah, I get comfort but sometimes we cross the line.
I’m told blogging is a casual form of conversation and social media allows us to be ourselves, but it seems to me that this might be causing us to lose our professionalism to a certain extent.
Transparency is one thing, but there’s such a thing as oversharing
Admittedly, I’m a lunch tweeter. If something spectacular is on the menu, I may make mention. I may also post pictures if the food presentation is creative and appealing. However, I think there’s a difference between sharing and oversharing, especially with the people we do business with. I don’t have separate business and personal Twitter accounts, but there are times I see the need for them. For example, if one is discussing one’s sex life on the same channels one uses to do business. It’s not even a too much information thing as much as certain things are not the business of clients and employers.
Something else to consider is what other people can do with your information. If you’re talking about staying up all night partying but call in sick, you’re setting yourself up for a firing. Also, if you’re looking for a new gig and your boss learns of this, you might find yourself on the market sooner than expected. Also? You may rethink the types of pictures you’re posting because divorce attorneys are finding Facebook and Twitter to be useful tools.
Back in the day, there was office talk and there was home talk. Some people didn’t know the difference and we viewed them as kind of rude and unprofessional. Lines are becoming blurred now and sometimes I think we’re getting too familiar with people we have no business being familiar with, if that makes sense. I think we need to stop and think about what we’re putting out there as well as who might be seeing it and how we’re being perceived.
Honesty should never be an excuse for rudeness
I have a nephew who speaks his mind and doesn’t care if he hurts feelings because he’s being “honest.” Except he’s not being honest as much as he’s being rude, but he doesn’t really understand the difference. Honestly is good to a certain extent, and when one needs to be blunt tact should always come in to play. Sometimes though, folks who blog or use the social networks forget their tact. They think their blunt honesty is a quirky little personality trait. Maybe it is and maybe they and the other honest people all get together for fun little bluntfests, but this doesn’t always work in the business world. Most people I have done business with prefer tact and professionalism over rude honesty. Sometimes telling it like it is and keeping it real aren’t the right things to do.
Appearances count, both online and offline
Being old school, I had to get used to casual appearances at business and networking events. I’m not talking about meetups and tweetups, but professional conferences. It took some getting used to seeing both attendees and presenters in jeans. I don’t have much of a problem with jeans if the event calls for it, they’re my preference to be honest. However, some people show up downright sloppy. I’ve seen folks in sweats, or looking hungover as if they just crawled out of bed. If you can’t show up at a professional conference at least showered and combed, I’m not sure if I can trust you to care for my project, either. You know?
I’ve also seen some well known names in our business act drunken and crazy. It may be after hours, but when we’re at professional events, it might be a good idea to drink in moderation. You may consider it your downtime, but people who want to work with you might see it as irresponsible. I think it’s ok to let our hair down over drinks and dinner, but we also have to somewhat remember we’re at a professional event. YouTube is forever.
Be true to yourself but not to the point of making others uncomfortable.
Casual is good but we still have to be professional
I like the new casual way of doing things. I especially enjoy that I don’t have to follow the specific AP format when blogging. I enjoy speaking my mind and writing in a way that makes my readers and I comfortable. However, I worry about crossing the line into unprofessionalism. I try to keep the bad words in check, but only because too many of them make me uncomfortable (which means they probably make others uncomfortable) and I’m not someone who could ever pull off swearing for the sake of swearing. Also, email and blog posts fired off in anger are almost always mistakes. Being casual in both our online and offline lives is fine, but we also have to make sure it doesn’t bite us where we sit. Though social media is a relatively new schtick, there are plenty of old schoolers milling about.
It Really Matters
It’s important that we keep our personality, identity and voice and stay true to ourselves, but I also think it’s important that we remember our old school manners, business practices and values. Sometimes it’s not so much a matter of “Well I’m just being me” as it is making others feel comfortable doing business with us.
How we conduct ourselves makes a big impression and it all has to do with how we act, how we present ourselves and how we treat people. I know it’s easy to lose sight of that, especially if this new, causal lifestyle is all we’ve ever known. Professionalism matters, and people really do notice.
Are you noticing a decline in professionalism? Tell us about it in the comments.