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Work Daze – Born to Be Wildly Unprofessional

Really, you ought to be proud

After years of unstinting effort, you have developed a reputation as someone who is unprofessional. You’re unprofessional in the way you work. You don’t really do any work. You’re unprofessional in the way you think. You do really do any thinking, either.

Certainly, company management expected a modicum of professionalism when you were hired. Tough nuggies. After working with you and talking to you, they must realize by now that a professional attitude is not something you offer. Excuses, grumbling, finger-pointing, contrariness — that they can get. But a professional approach to their problems and their projects? Sorry, that’s just not on the menu.

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Being so unprofessional so early in your career is a real accomplishment, and I congratulations on this achievement. The question is — could you do more? Could you go further?

Yes, you’re unprofessional, but are you “wildly unprofessional?”

This is exactly the question that Bill Murphy of Inc. asks in a recent posting on The Muse website,”10 Everyday Habits That Make You Look Wildly Unprofessional at Work.”

I imagine most people will read the Murphy piece for a list of habits to avoid. For you, the post provides a list of habits to adopt if you want to up your game and go from garden-variety unprofessional to wildly unprofessional.

Like adding “Lazy Profanity” to your vocabulary, Murphy’s Habit No. 1. “If someone uses the F-word as an all-purpose adjective,” he writes, “it makes you wonder whether they’re equally uncreative and slothful in everything they do.”

Totally agree. If you want to be wildly unprofessional, break out the W-word, and the T-word, and, though I hate to suggest this in a family publication, the Q-word, too. When you start spewing profanity, use all the creativity that management expected to find when they hired you. It could them lead them to hope that someday it will appear in your work.

“Lateness” is habit No. 2. “Being on time is a matter of respect,” Murphy writes. True that. It’s unprofessional to make people wait for you when you arrive late to a meeting. It’s wildly unprofessional if you don’t show up at all.

Habit No. 3 is “leering.” You may think it is flattering to ogle a co-worker, but the truth is, it’s unprofessional to look at people the same way you look at a box of jelly donuts left over from a meeting and now up for grabs in the lunch room.

“Keep the ‘up-and-down look’ under control,” Murphy suggests, and he’s right if you don’t want to develop a reputation as wildly unprofessional. Since you do, follow-up that leer by breaking out a tape measure. Yes, it’s wildly unprofessional to take the measurements of a co-worker, and here’s an extra plus — it shows management that you’re detailed oriented.

“Pollyannaishness” is habit No. 5. It is wildly unprofessional to insist that “thing are absolutely fine — while simple common sense tells you they’re not.” Which is exactly why you should get your Pollyanna groove on. A lot. No matter how big a disaster you have caused, insist that everything is fine, and everyone is over-reacting, including your manager who is yelling at you for something trivial, like driving his Tesla through the front door and into the reception room. “It’s absolutely fine,” you might say. “We needed to replace that ficus. It was getting leggy.”

Habit No. 8 is “secrecy.” An unprofessional worker “hides important information from employees or clients.” A wildly unprofessional worker reveals all their secrets, and then moves to reveal all the secrets of all the employees and clients in the entire company. No secret is too minor. (Yes, SVP of human resources. we know you were caught taking an extra juice box in second grade.) Hiring a team of private investigators will be expensive, but you’ll definitely earn it back in the new position your revelations will win you.

“Cheating and lying” is habit No. 10. This is definitely the behavior of a wildly unprofessional person, and eventually, it will catch up to you.

You’re unlikely to be caught in cheating or lying, but you could eventually run out of things to cheat and lie about. This is the point where lesser people might consider giving up their wildly unprofessional ways to become a totally professional person who never demonstrates even one of Murphy’s 10 habits.

But that won’t be you. Consistent cheating, lying, leering, lateness and all the rest require hard work and dedication, but, hey, I have faith in you.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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