Am I Too Professional?
When you walk into a room do you intimidate others or do you welcome them? Intimidation doesn’t always come from being rude, it can come from the subtle things that you do. When you strike up a conversation, does it somehow turn into a summary of your curriculum vitae or does it flow naturally? You can speak about your accomplishments without being a show-off. Are you just too professional? Is that even possible
That might actually be the case, but people might not view it as professional. While you might think that displaying your expertise in a stoic manner is a way to show your intellectual prowess, your peers, potential clients and customers might assume that you are pretentious. You might intimidate with a cold demeanor or flat-out seem inhuman by your inability to act like everyone else. The problem goes beyond trying too hard to be polished when communicating in a professional context because good manners, factual statements, and directness are appreciative. Unfortunately, this can easily turn into a dismissive cold front.
First, this doesn’t mean that work can be dealt with casually and informally. Your tone defines the way you treat the subject of your message, that’s obvious, but not always a conscious choice. Professionalism has nothing to do with your appearance or the hours you spend reading thesaurus. Your language and appearance should be appropriate for the situation. Acting appropriately is professional. Throwing around words that you don’t understand and being too stiff is just plain pretentious, or at least, it appears that way.
What matters most is that you portray an accurate sense of self. Your portfolio should not be exaggerated. Dealing with clients and customers requires a sense of appropriateness. Even when you are in a job interview, you should know isn’t allowed. You can’t skip formalities, take cues from the interviewer, and don’t act above yourself. If you are trying to sell to someone, you need to be personable to them, but still courteous. Your goal is to win them over, not impress them or intimidate them.
Look over previous exchanges that you have had. What do you notice with your speech and tone and how that correlates to closing deals and converting. Scour through your social media to look for posts and comments that you have made and examine what you could do to improve your image. It has less to do with photos and more to do with the tone of your message.
These are some quick tips to work on:
Even when you are speaking about your accomplishments do so quickly. Don’t brag or stress on how it was a near-impossible achievement or how many would kill to have your accolades. In the same breath, don’t brush it off or go on a rant about how “humbled” you are even though you are using your airtime to show how decorated you are.
STOP BEING A KNOW-IT-ALL
Everyone sees articles that tell you to brand yourself as the “top expert” in your field, but they don’t always tell you how to do that without looking like a braggart. Admit it when you are not knowledgeable about something. If you are posed with a question and you are unsure of an answer a response like “I don’t know, but I can find out,” will show that you are willing to go the extra mile to improve yourself and satisfy clients. When you are thoroughly endowed with expertise in a field, do your best to explain things in a way that everyone can understand. Using terms that aren’t common will alienate clients who are intimidated by you.
SHOW INTEREST IN YOUR CLIENTS
They pay your bills. Instead of focusing the conversation on you or being too stiff, show them how you can solve their problems. Listen to their concerns, reassure them and then use that opportunity to say why you are the best at what you do. A conversation has a rhythm to it and you need to play along. You can be blunt, but you still need to understand the flow of exchange.
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