Five Ways to Offend Someone Professionally

We driven, successful young professionals have a lot invested in our careers and business ventures. We take pride in our professional successes and are generally passionate about what we do. Naturally, if a fellow YP says or does something to offend or undermine us professionally, it will be remembered. Here are five things that may offend professionally…are you guilty of any? 

Undermine His/Her Professional Endeavour
Every successful and driven young entrepreneurial-minded professional truly believes that his or her business, product or service is the best thing their city has experienced. It may very well be one day, whether others believe and support it or not. Sure, it is a tough, pavement-pounding fleet to grow your own business to become a successful startup, but don’t you think the entrepreneur knows that? It’s one thing to offer constructive criticism, insight or seasoned advice, but another to question (or otherwise bash) a business model, idea or company. Insulting a young entrepreneur’s born and bred business venture is like insulting someone’s baby. 

Categorize or Stereotype Based on Profession
No matter the profession, it’s insulting when others make judgments and assessments based on someone’s career choice, especially when they are ignorant to the exact nature of your business or profession. For example, others may assume that an entrepreneur gets to sleep in, spends hours at the gym and enjoys a generally leisurely lifestyle, when any successful business owner will tell you this, sadly, is far from the reality. Other common professional stereotypes: PR girls are flighty and superficial, bloggers and other media are nothing but professional party people, artists don’t have real jobs and all people in finance are rigid and type A. Did we ruffle a few feathers? We told you it was offensive. 

Treat a Business Card Like a Discarded Piece of Garbage
Although the art of the business card transaction is more relaxed in Canada and North America than, for example, in Japan, it may be offensive to some if, upon receipt, you don’t even take the time to glance down at it and blindly toss it in your purse or pocket like an empty wrapper you plan to discard later. Even if you are less-than-intrigued with the business card-bearing person, practice good networking etiquette and take the time to study the card for a few seconds, then carefully place it in your wallet. Ask a question if you can; you never know how you may benefit one another, even in seemingly unrelated professions. 

Get Too Comfortable
If you work in an office of young, driven and personal fellow YPs, it’s easy to get comfortable and for the lines of professional and personal lines to become blurred. This could include being too loud and intimate with the details of your personal life; as in, the person in the desk beside you may not want to hear you dish all the details from your steamy date the night before to your BFF at work. The same can be said for the use of profanity and the relaxation of professional language in work-related emails. On the extreme end, this could mean emails peppered with slang, LOLs and emoticons. Becoming too comfortable can also mean that you forget your superiors are, in fact, your superiors, and that bosses and should be respected as such, even if they are your friend or younger than you. 

Throw Someone Under the Bus
During our round table discussion with an assortment of young professionals last spring, it was brought to our attention that throwing co-workers, co-owners and clients “under the bus” very much exists. The thought of making a major work-related mistake is panic-inducing for most young professionals and it is difficult for some to accept the blame for missed deadlines, miscommunication and errors. In the heat of the moment, with all fingers pointed in your direction, it may be your innate defense to blame the mistake on another co-worker, supplier or intern, rather than to suck it up and accept the blame yourself. 

Just as in our personal relationships and life in general, remember your mother’s voice reciting the golden rule: “if you wouldn’t want it done to you…”