Sometimes in our careers, we have all worked with someone unprofessional. They may come across like they don’t care, don’t even know how to behave in a professional setting, or even realize their behavior is unprofessional. How do most people usually respond? Avoidance! They would rather avoid the situation instead of addressing the unprofessionalism. Why? Because it is uncomfortable. Whether new or experienced, many supervisors shy away from confrontation, thinking that the behavior will go away. However, in most cases, the behavior gets worse when it’s not dealt with and continues.
Is there a way to help or mentor them?
Yes, of course, there is, by addressing the behavior. People can’t change if they don’t know their behavior is displeasing.
🦋 Calmly explain to the unprofessional person how to be treated with respect. Give an example of what is respectful and courteous.
Here are some examples:
- “When you roll your eyes at me while I am speaking to you, this makes me feel disrespected. ”
- “When you don’t respond to me with an answer, I feel frustrated and ignored. Please respond promptly.” (In this example, it could be in person, email, text, etc.)
Beneath every behavior there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when we meet that need rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom. ~ Ashleigh Warner
If we are all honest, there are times in our careers when we have been unprofessional. A coworker pushed us over the edge with a passive-aggressive comment. The harsh boss that embarrassed you in front of your peers or a group meeting and yelled at everyone because of one coworker’s lousy behavior and ruins everyone’s day. An argument in a staff meeting went over the top.
I think this is one of the most challenging aspects of any job when working with the public or collaborating with coworkers. “How do I respond to unprofessional people?”
There are numerous reasons. Coworkers can be defensive, rude, sarcastic, have their own agenda, and be plain difficult. Some even enjoy causing workplace drama and spreading rumors. They get high while watching the sh*t fly as the tension builds and the hostility grows around them.
We spend more time with our coworkers than with family. Coworkers sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. Some even like to push our buttons so that we will react unfavorably.
Some people don’t have speaking filters. They talk at the same time as the thoughts enter their head. They don’t even know what they said was unkind, disrespectful, or demeaning. Some people, you can’t approach them about their unprofessional behavior as a coworker. You may need to discuss the situation with your supervisor.
How can you make the most of it?
Before you approach the unprofessional person:
- Think about how they will respond.
- Have a plan of action on how to communicate with recommended solutions.
- Be prepared.
Will they accept the feedback or react unfavorably towards you.
No matter how awful someone treats you. Stop, reflect, and walk away. I know it is hard to walk away when emotions overtake you. However, just because you don’t react, it doesn’t mean you didn’t notice the behavior or accept it. The only way to stop a toxic person is not to engage with them. Address the situation later when you both have time to think it over and calm down, not in the heat of the moment. Choose your battles carefully. Sometimes responding in anger makes you look like a fool in front of others.
Reflect on your career.
🦋 What were some of your experiences dealing with unprofessional?
🦋 What did you learn from these experiences?
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