Conduct | 5 things that make you look unprofessional

5 things that make you look unprofessional

Having the intelligence and market knowledge to excel in your industry is the number one factor that will lead to a successful career, and maybe in an ideal world, this would be enough on its own to ensure that your work life is forever secure. However, this simply is not the case.

Various other extenuating factors affect how others perceive you, and in some cases how you manage your personal brand in the workplace can affect your progression more than your knowledge. In fact, we probably all know an individual who it’s painfully obvious has managed to reach a senior leadership position, almost entirely with a combination of (perhaps undeserved) confidence and a very sharp suit.

In contrast, we also all probably know an extremely hard worker, with bundles of industry-specific knowledge who has remained at the same desk for a decade due to their refusal to ‘play the corporate game’, as some may characterise it.

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So, what can you do to ensure that you don’t fall into the corporate trap? How can you ensure that when you play the game, you come out on top?

Well, we can’t ensure your success, but we can tell you five of the key areas to stay well away from if you want to seem professional.

Letting your personal life leak into your professional life

It may seem like stating the obvious, but a massive amount of management has this issue; even those at the absolute top of the world corporate stage such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been guilty of doing this. The only way to truly separate the two is to see them as totally and utterly separate entities. This means not uttering a peep about the trials and tribulations of your hectic household, not moaning about friends and family, and certainly not letting these factors affect your performance or presence in the office.

Failing to tow the line of communication 

Don’t get us wrong, you don’t want to be a stiff and characterless leader. It’s almost impossible to truly inspire dedication in your staff without charisma, yet this line is fine and can sometimes be a treacherous one to toe. Being overly casual around staff may undermine your leadership and may make it harder to lay down the rules.


Yes, this does need to be said. You may well believe that simply chatting to a work friend about a rumour you’ve heard is harmless chatter, yet it’s extremely dangerous, and has the potential to ruin a career. Firstly, that ‘little rumour’ will spread like wildfire and may cause serious issues for the unlucky individual on the receiving end. Secondly, by getting a reputation as someone who likes to gossip, you’ll damage your own corporate identity.

Being unresponsive 

We all have unproductive days in which we struggle to keep up with work and e-mails. We’re only human and this is simply par for the course. However, this can very quickly snowball into a terrible habit, and render your inbox and your workload completely unmanageable. At first it may just affect external communications, and you may get away with pushing back a few deadlines, but before long the entire house of cards will fall down on you and you’ll be found out by your boss. Not a good idea.

Workplace drinking 

The occasional celebratory drink when completing a big project or landing a client is acceptable in most workplaces when offered by the boss. However, making a habit of long drinking lunches, drinking in the office at the end of the day or week, and constantly encouraging coworkers to drink with you may turn heads for the wrong reasons. 

What do you think constitutes unprofessionalism? Let us know in the comments…

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