Are we a bit too devoted to and obsessed by our professional labels? The awards we collect. The Top List of This or That we are on. Those accomplishments, honors, certifications, academic degrees in which we revel.
Our professional labels are What We “Do”, for Other People, Right Now. Hmmm……. Really?
Our professional labels are the stuff we put on our LinkedIn and other social media platform profiles. And on our professional resumes, which are full of all the things we think make us more credible to other people.
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Our devotion to, and obsession with, our professional labels become the feathers in our professional peacock tails. And we love to strut our stuff.
For starters, think about the last networking event or association meeting attended. Then, we get back home, unload our briefcases or backpacks. And a pile of biz cards fall out. What do we do next? Try to remember who these folks are merely by reading words on their business cards.
How many business cards have the person’s name and their title, followed by a lengthy string of professional acronyms? These titles and labels are static reminders of…. Nothing. They suggest no experiential take-away, whatsoever.
- First of all, how many of us really understand what all of these acronyms “mean”?
- Then, do these lengthy lists of professional qualifications end up intimidating people, in their attempt to impress them?
Unless we create memorable experiences when engaging people, all of those labels can have the opposite impact. Perhaps we meet a person and, at the time, think an individual is really super.
- Only to read their biz card later, and become intimidated by the breadth and depth of their strutting their STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) knowledge and experience. On both sides of their professional card.
- Or, the biz card or professional profile on LinkedIn is full of marketing and sales spiel and lingo which appears light-hearted and almost self-deprecating, with pseudo-titles created for what they do. Almost as an excuse or apology for who they think they are not.
Professional labels are just that: groups of words or acronyms which may have limited significance, depending on the audience.
These labels acknowledge that the individuals earning them have completed a level of education in specific areas of professional pursuit. However, the label itself can set up performance and customer experience expectations which may be unjustified.
As a result, we end up stereotyping people, instead of experiencing them for the value they bring to our business tables. Often, professional labels stir up unconscious bias.
How many of us see the acronym “PhD” and immediately judge the person we are speaking with? We assume they are more intelligent than we are. Often, PhD’s and other highly-educated professionals behave in a manner that makes us feel as though we are not as smart as they are.
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Then again, how many of us see the word “sales person” and arrive at a snap judgment about that individual? We assume they will be a fast-talker and what they say will lack substance. In their training to be empathetic and relational, often these sales people push the personal connection envelope and downplay their own intelligence. Often, selling themselves short.
To create positive customer experiences with clients and colleagues, move past the biases generated by the professional labels game.
Aside from uttering the phrase: “Yes, I am a PhD (or a sales person or an office administrator with a high school education or an assembly line worker), but don’t hold that against me!” think about the quality of the interaction we create each time we engage with people. These people are on the receiving end of experiencing Who We Are as Professionals of Worth.
Our titles and accolades are static. We, however, are dynamic. What happens when we start introducing ourselves in terms of how we deliver to an organization’s value stream?
Perhaps it is time to fold up our professional peacock tails. It just could be we have been strutting around to serve our own, rather than our customers’, needs. Arriving at that epiphany is professional innovation, in my Playbook. Something to chew on this week?
Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset™ speaking programs showcase how profitable collaboration catalyzes purposeful, innovative personal development, leadership communication and business growth. Her professional speaker profile appears on the espeakers platform. Babette’s Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.
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