Is Being Unprofessional Still Professional?
Is it sometimes alright to let the side down?
Do business life and home life have to remain separated?
This summer has thrown up several major reasons for me to allow my work and time management to slip. Some of the things that I normally consider as essential to being a professional, stopped being part of my conduct. I aim to be someone who shows respect and care for her clients by answering calls and emails, remembering what people have requested and where they are at in their coaching journey with me. Well this summer I lost the plot. I couldn’t remember who I had spoken to and when. I completely lost emails in the various inboxes and accidental delete buttons. I missed appointments and seemed to spend far too much time apologising for my lapses.
When I’ve messed up I can tend to fret over whether I should be giving that person a clear reason for my behaviour in order to reassure them that I’m not just lax, or whether to simply apologise and say nothing, so that it doesn’t come across as simply making excuses.
(Is there anything less professional than squirming out of a mistake by excuses and blame?)
My family already had a few large milestones to contend with taking up plenty of time and energy, and then my much beloved step-father became extremely ill. He was in intensive care for 10 days and came very close to dying before he rallied round and recovered. He came back home for four days before suddenly dying one Sunday morning, leaving my 81 year old mother alone to live on without him.
This naturally dominated everything. The whole family rallied round to care for him and my mother, as well as all caring for each other. The love we felt for him and the support we wanted to give to the others became the only things that mattered. I tried my best through tears and shaking to send text messages cancelling appointments I had booked, but
the truth is, it was hard to think of all that as real and meaningful.
On coming back home and trying to pick up the threads once again, whilst still being on standby to go up to my Mum at the drop of a hat, I had to decide how to make my apologies. What would I say to people? Would I suddenly become reliable once more with all of it behind me? In truth I was hurting inside and didn’t really want to ‘get back to work’ but then I also didn’t want to let down ll of those people who had put their trust in me and had their own life and work issues to deal with.
In the end I decided to be up-front and open with everyone.
What I discovered in the end is that I work with the most wonderful people. Not only was I given reassurance that my lapses were not a problem but everyone told me sincerely that family and friends have to come first and gave me their best wishes.
I can see that in being completely honest I was also tacitly giving them permission to feel that keeping a professional mask is not necessary and perhaps even counterproductive.
We all want to work with human beings who are caring and generous. I gave them the chance to be caring and generous towards me and subsequently towards themselves.
Could it be that I have come out of this being considered more of a professional and more of a real person for the experience? And I’d like to send very special thanks to all of you who gave me the space and support to let things slip when it was most important to do so.
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing the words back to you when you have forgotten them.”
If there are any aspects of running your therapy business and managing your life that you would like to discuss, please just contact The Little Escape to find out how I can help you.
The Therapists Coach