Monday, October 5, 2009

How to be Professional

One of the single most important tenants of professionalism in any business environment (industry/writing/family politics) can be summed up by that scene from The Godfather when Michael and Fredo go to Las Vegas and Michael later shouts at Fredo to never speak against the family. It's a lesson about loyalty that Fredo never learns. It's also a lesson that should be remembered for conducting yourself professionally.

This means: if you’re in a group, an office, a club—anything where you and other humans interact on a regular, collected basis—you don’t throw your colleagues under the bus in order to avoid taking responsibility. It doesn’t make you look better. It doesn’t shift the blame. And when you do it, the other people around you will think you can no longer be trusted, and they’re right.

In any career, writing included, you don’t badmouth people you work with to others outside the company/group, no matter how much they deserve it! Did Beyonce get up on stage and say “That Kanye is a huge arse, isn’t he!” NO. Instead she was professional.

If you must convey a negative action about someone you work/play with, then be careful about the words you use. Don’t say, “Bob failed on the job. Bob did not do what he was supposed to do.” It takes a big person to talk kindly about your coworkers/boss/agent/whomever when they didn’t do something you want them to do, but that’s what you do in a professional environment.

As writers, you’re navigating a business. YOUR business. Act accordingly—don’t throw people you work with under the bus, no matter how wrong they are. I’ve seen a lot of agents and editors (see #4 here for a reality check) say on their blogs that working with unprofessional writers does not endear them, and that counts when it comes time for a renewal of a publishing contract. You can't be nasty on your blog either, or on Twitter—because people Google you, and that includes agents and editors. For me, this extends to not even wanting to put a bad review of a book on this blog, because I don’t want to be negative about a book, and it’s all subjective.

And guess what else. When you post too much of yourself, the world can see it. You should be quaking like I do every time you hit that "publish" button. Did you post a collection of reactions to rejections? A prospective agent might read it and possibly reject you because of it. Did you blog about your boss or your workplace? Think about your boss reading it. Blogs/twitters/facebooks are not anonymous.

We’re all nasty, people. I’m just saying you need to hide it.


FictionGroupie said...

I agree totally. I just blogged about the negative book review thing last Friday for this very reason. Great post.

Tina Lynn said...

Ah...the world of grown-ups is so complicated. My DH and I were talking about this very thing today. Prospective employers are checking social networking sites as an aid to screen applicants. Yikes. Luckily, I am not the type to do or say stupid or disparaging things. I talk badly about the days of the week *grin*, but that's about as far as it goes.

BTW, you don't know how jealous I am of your location. I moved from the Bay Area over 15 years ago (is my age showing), and I really miss being able to hop on BART and visit San Fran. I miss it so bad.

Sierra Godfrey said...

As are yours, Fiction Groupie!

Tina, where did you move to?

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