Five Things a Real Professional Should Not Say (3 minute read)

We’ve all let out the snippy retort or the thoughtless response to an email. But a true professional will be conscientious about how he/she responds to others at work, knowing that good relationships are the foundation of professional effectiveness.

The following examples are based on real-life dialogues I’ve experienced or heard about.

“You obviously missed the message.”  Ouch. Talk about putting the blame on a colleague or customer.  

Instead: I may not have communicated well. Here’s the info…


“I’m sorry that’s how you heard that/how you understood that/assumed that.”  Be careful when using “you” statements. They can feel accusatory. It’s putting the responsibility of understanding on your receiver. It’s more professional to take responsibility for clearly communicating. For example, you could say, “I’m sorry…looks like I didn’t communicate clearly.”

“Oh, I clean out my inbox every few weeks.”  Meanwhile, requests for information your colleagues need sit unanswered. Instead, get a handle on managing your email and take responsibility instead of working in crisis mode all the time.

“I’ll be happy to hear from you every ____weeks until I’m ready for your help with the project.”

This email between potential client and service provider comes off as an expectation to be served in an ongoing way by the provider without paying them for their time. Sure, vendors should have a follow-up policy as they seek to invite customers and clients into a working relationship. But the follow-up frequency should mostly be determined by the vendor, not set as an expectation by the potential customer. That’s just positioning someone to be your assistant for free.  If you believe you may use this vendor in the future, mark YOUR calendar to contact them later.

“Happy birthday. Be sure to use your birthday money on (my product, app, service.)”   Um…do I even need to elaborate on the tackiness of this one?

Think about how your communication will come across before you say it or send it!

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