BE A PROFESSIONAL

I have over 20 years in the computer field and most of that running my own business. By far the largest percentage of problems I’ve encountered are how people conduct business. It can be as something as simple as scheduling someone for some work or most likely, dealing with a vendor. In the fashion, artistic industry, I can safely say that this is all amped up a few times over! The fashion business is incredibly personality and youth driven. A recipe for not being professional.

I’ve been a big believer in “The No Asshole Rule”. A book written by a Stanford University professor who looked into the benefits and downfalls of ‘that one asshole’ or ‘assholes’ in the business. It was proven that the benefits from the asshole are negated by the loss of productivity and morale from other staff. You do better without the asshole. With that, I try very hard to see the asshole and steer clear. I don’t work with assholes. Period. Life is way too short for that for any potential gain. But sometimes, they slip under my radar with their charm and initial professionalism. And as these people usually have no scruples, they can be quite the faker.

So what happens when you get involved with one of these people and you have to deal with them for the next few hours? Weeks? Months? God forbid: years. I’m going to talk about this as briefly as possible in the context of the fashion business. In IT, it feels like a piece of cake compared what you deal with in the fashion business.

Humanity

A bad attitude version isn’t so difficult. Stuff happens and it could be hard to shake sometimes. For me, simply showing some empathy and compassion helps tremendously. Usually completely reversing the attitude. Getting their mind off what is bothering them is key. You don’t need to know what it is. Get them excited and interested at the job at hand. Heck, even good coffee and donuts can do the trick!

The Diva

The other issues are not so easy. Like I mentioned, I’d rather ‘get by’ than deal with a person like that. But when it’s time to perform, you just can’t send them home. There seems to be two ways to deal with it. First, have a chat with them. Errgh! Yes. Talk. Trying to explain to the that work needs to get done and there is a problem. Be firm yet compassionate. Some people look at it as a sign of weakness if you show too much compassion. It’s a tough judgement call sometimes. It’s better to take the Humanity route before taking the Diva one.

An Eye for an Eye…

Being unprofessional, no matter how tempting or deserving, just doesn’t work.

  • It gives the other person a fact, reason to continue their behavior. Fanning the flame.
  • It gives them something they can use against you when your name comes up in conversation. Of course, they will out several important facts about their own behavior.
  • There is also the slight chance that when they see how professional you’re behaving, that they will see the errors of their ways and straighten up. Sometimes. I have first-hand experience with that.
  • Most importantly, it’s beneath you. Getting revenge or equal as Ghandi once put it: An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind. And if you’re blind, metaphorically speaking, no one can see their errors or the path to a better place. Okay, so maybe this is a bit hippy-dippy. But it true.

I think the most important thing to take away from this article is this: don’t underestimate the power of calm, mature and professional conversation. Especially when taking the lead in this conversation, elevates you in more ways than the obvious….

About the author

Ricardo Gomez is a Fashion Photographer based in New York City.

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