Appearance and Reality

Many of us engage in a lot of verbal and written communication on a daily basis. Much of it is related to the business or profession that we are in and some of it to social interaction.

We sometimes have the opportunity to work with individuals who are competent, intelligent and oftentimes highly qualified. However, we recoil in horror when these same individuals are downright insensitive, rude and uncouth in business and social settings. Consider these examples which I have taken from personal experience and some related to me by associates and friends.

Spewing toxic comments

Some misguided individuals who exert to impress those around them get carried away with their unrestrained caustic comments and uncouth language. These individuals have a tendency to go to extremes in their condemnation or criticisms of a project or proposal.

At other times, they might publicly promote a cause or project while privately working very hard to have it killed at all costs. To add insult to injury or more accurately to reflect their lack of pedigree, they do not hesitate to let fly with four letter words and gutter language in the confines of an office or meeting room.

Some acquaintances and colleagues are prone to passing uncalled for personal comments. These remarks are meant to ridicule or embarrass fellow colleagues. Some have the cheek to claim to be friends when they make these rude, personal comments  at the expense of others. Remarking loudly on a person’s baldness, height, weight or colour for instance is inexcusable. It reveals a mean and negative streak in the person who delights in making the subject of his comments uncomfortable. What makes it more annoying is the attempt at damage control thereafter by claiming it is more out of concern! Who needs such concern or such friends? At other times, the guilty person claims that the offended party is being unduly sensitive but it is the reverse actually because it shows a complete lack of sensitivity by the irresponsible person.

Sincerity is not a mind game

A feeble attempt at sincerity is carried out by those who have the acting bug in them. For one reason or another, these individuals admire their ability to ‘ put on a show of sincerity ‘ replete with such give away lines as: let me be very frank with you or in all sincerity. Such declarations inevitably lead you to question whether all your previous discussions or dealings with that person were less than frank!

Sometimes, these individuals indulge in a reverse logic response. It goes something like this: I am very keen to embark on this project but…and then he goes on to list a litany of reasons why he cannot. The ‘ very keen ‘ phrase is used to lull you into a false sense of hope and to buy time so as to achieve other hidden agenda. When this approach is tried out on the village idiot it works wonders.

The lesson here is not to underestimate your business associate or fellow collaborator. He is very likely to see you for what you are. This is because sincerity is not a mind game reflecting what you merely say but rather what you do in practice.

Failing to observe business etiquette

When you seek an appointment with a business associate, fellow professional or high ranking official, the onus is on you to turn up on time. It is not only impolite but rude and discourteous to arrive late for the appointment you had sought! If you have earned an unfavourable reputation for being a habitual latecomer, then you are actually communicating an inability on your part to manage time.

There is another very insensitive habit practised by a number of individuals. When they enter a room for a meeting or appointment, they conveniently forget to put their hand phones on silent mode. Very often and foolishly they attempt to answer the phone when it rings while they are at a meeting. This is downright rude and insensitive. You had sought the meeting. Your focus should be on the meeting itself and you should not, under any excuse, give the impression that you have forgotten where you are. Yet many are guilty for not practising this basic business etiquette.

Indulging in casual misrepresentation

Certain individuals have acquired a tendency to indulge in casual misrepresentation. This takes on many forms and can very often result in misleading people. This misrepresentation may be about products, services and even about their own qualifications and credentials.

Let us take a look at three fairly typical examples.

Case No. 1

A few student counsellors and lecturers who have an important role to play in disseminating information on courses as well as counselling students, have abused their position of trust and responsibility. They do so by deliberately misleading students and even parents about a particular course or qualification. They do this in order to promote a particular course at all costs. In other instances, they mislead because the profit margins are thin for a particular course.

Case No. 2

In this case, we are talking about individuals who misrepresent their actual status to employers, clients, business associates and friends. For example, you may come across someone who has passed the final professional accounting exams but who has not been admitted into membership, passing himself off as a member. This is wrong and unethical: in professional accounting bodies, membership is the qualification. Passing the final exams is at best, only half the qualification!

Case No.3

In this example, are the people who wish to embellish their names with all manner of impressive degrees, designatory initials and titles. They even go to the extent of obtaining a degree or post graduate qualification from a degree mill and if need be from a university of dubious repute. A few shamelessly put a Dr. before their name when in actual fact theirs is an honorary doctorate. Some purchase their fancy titles from pretenders to the thrones of long lost kingdoms!

You should take the time to assess your personal style and welcome feedback from business associates, colleagues and friends. If you are prepared to carry out a personal audit of your strengths and weaknesses and thereafter take corrective measures, you will soon be on your way to revitalising your personal, business and professional potential.

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