New Video: What does “Being Professional” Really Mean for Your Small Business?

We all define “being professional” in a different way. For ourselves and for our business. This video is about a blog post I wrote a in February of 2011, where I used the F word (in a way that was intended to be lighthearted and comical).

Most people “got it”, but a few people sent me emails saying that I was unprofessional to use such language, etc. I was surprised by the email feedback I received, since the comments in the post were overwhelmingly positive and fun. Immediately, I took to twitter to get some thoughts (without giving any details). This is the question I asked: Do you think it is unprofessional to use the f* word on your blog? I got quite a few responses. Some people said yes, some people said no. But the answers were cut and dry- no in between- just varying opinions.

And at the end of the day, I was actually kind of glad that an opportunity for discussion was able to arise out of this.

It lead to a great debate on twitter and ultimately, to this post. So, it was a good thing. For sure. And of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and I appreciate those opinions (whether I agree or disagree with them). If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, watch this video and then, if you wouldn’t mind, please answer this question for me…

What do you define as “being professional” when it comes to small businesses?

*If you like this video and think others would benefit from watching it, I would  love for you to retweet or facebook it.

36 comments | Click here to reply

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Christian. I agree- its not that controversial to throw a cuss word in every now and again (or more than that). And I certainly can’t please everyone. Appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment.
-Brittni

papernstitch

Some people are so sensitive 🙂 You have nothing to apologize for. I often say if you’re not pissing people off on occasion, then it’s a good sign you might not be pushing the envelope. And let’s be honest…using a cuss word now and then is not that controversial. Every business has a target audience; that means everyone else isn’t necessarily going to like or care about what you’re doing. And that is of course, just dandy.

Christian

Thank you Renae for your input and alternate perspective. I really appreciate you coming by and sharing your thoughts. After reading and responding to all of the comments so far on this topic, I’ve gained perspective on my readers and the dialogue that’s spawned here has been wonderful. Exactly what I hoped for.
-Brittni

papernstitch

Okay, since you invited all perspectives -I will comment today.

I’m not a fan.

I’m a mom of two little kids and involved in a circle of high-schoolers and expect neither to speak that way. Both are too immature to use language of that sort appropriately and therefore censor my words (and subject matter) accordingly as they are highly impressionable. I really find no need to use language of that nature. With that being said -I totally agree with other posters that your blog is your platform. If I don’t like it -I won’t read it! With that being said -I’m still here and reading your blog. 🙂

Renae Bradley

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lupin. I agree that I think it was more shocking to some people than it might have otherwise been because I don’t normally cuss on the blog. In really life, I use colorful language pretty frequently, so it was bound to happen at some point.

Anyway, appreciate your point of view. Have a great weekend.

Brittni

papernstitch

I can definitely see why people might have been shocked if you don’t normally swear as it’s not what they’re used to encountering from you… I don’t have a problem with the F word myself but but I guess we live in a world where swear words are still starred out in newspapers etc and judging from the fact that people took the time to email you about this it’s obviously something that *some* people are bothered by.

For myself, I swear quite casually in my private life but I’m always super careful about my language when I blog or tweet, sort of in the same way that I err on the side of politeness when emailing my customers and will only become less formal and more chatty if they respond that way.

I think swearing on blogs is a bit like strongly voiced opinions about politics etc, complaining about someone/something publically, or sharing details of your private life … sometimes these things are appropriate and sometimes they’re not, and only you can work out when those times are based on your personality, your ideas about your “brand” and who you think your audience is.

Lupin

Absolutely Meagan. It stood out and I think that’s why a few people decided to email me about it and express their thoughts. It all boils down to your audience, and mine is a bit of a mixed bag (which I absolutely love). And I never want anyone who comes by to feel upset or uncomfortable, as I try to keep things fun and upbeat around here. 🙂

I appreciate you stopping by and leaving your thoughts.
-Brittni

papernstitch

WOW! Obviously everyone has a different opinion on this topic. SO here’s mine…since you asked! 😉

This is your blog & you know the audience you’re trying to reach so you can do what you want. Your actions will impact your business for better or worse. Same goes for all of us.

I do remember that post, & I’d been reading your blog for a bit. Not too long, but long enough for it to jump out at me because I’d never seen you say anything like that before. It didn’t offend me. I still love your blog & I think you’re a valuable resource.

So maybe that’s it. It stood out, which was your point, but it didn’t stand out in the way you wanted it to perhaps. I think with Naomi, Marie, & Danielle…that’s common language for them, so people expect that if they’re reading those blogs. They didn’t expect it from you so it was a shocker.

Now for me…my audience is moms & I don’t use any sort of language on my blog. I don’t want to offend anyone, & it’s not going to hurt me to not use it. But, I am being myself. I don’t use that language anytime. If I want to make a point about something…I say freaking. I do use that word a lot! Like people who teach about blogging…they say to write like you talk. If you talk that way, write that way. If you don’t, don’t.

BTW…I agree with you. I “FREAKING” love red velvet cupcakes!

Meagan

Great tip Alicia. Seth Godin is so wise. I could listen to him speak for days.
-Brittni

papernstitch

Don’t stress it. I always go back to what Seth Godin said:

If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impacts? Will I lose my job, get hit upside the head with a softball bat or lose important friendships?†If the only side effect of the criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing. Being remarkable is exciting, fun, profitable and great for your career. Feeling bad wears off.

alicia

LittleMissPip- My husband pointed that out to me as well. If I would have used asterisks f***ing or something like that, most likely no one would have even noticed. I guess I just didn’t think about that at the time. Didn’t want to censor it. Ya know?

Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate it.
-Brittni

papernstitch

I completely agree that there is a time and a place for these things. I don’t like it when people swear for no reason repeatedly to the point where it loosing all meaning. I think that your use of it was appropriate, in that to say I get it.

Having said that I do remember being a little taken aback when I read your post. I remember thinking “my goodness, did she just?” I think it was more do with the fact that I really wasn’t expecting it appear as it’s not your usual style. To contradict myself, if you had written ‘f**king’ I probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. There is a tendency to play the card – ‘I’m swearing, you know I’m swearing, but I’m watering it down so it’s socially acceptable.’

Typically I don’t think swearing is very professional but in this medium, a more person side to your business, I don’t think it undermines you at all.

Keep up the good work! 🙂

LittleMissPip

Thanks so much for your kinds words Laura!
-Brittni

papernstitch

What an interesting topic! I use all the words I know! whenever I think the situation calls for one of the words I know,I use it. Although I try to edit my voice to suit my audience,it should be obvious that this is your blog. You are a professional writer and marketer, therefore it’s up to you to determine your ‘professional’ behavior. It seems quite clear that you don’t plaster the blogosphere with f-bombs and you haven’t alienated your audience so your language/behavior must be acceptable to the majority out there. I think you’re absolutely wonderful and to folks who are offended – read elsewhere. To those who were disappointed…get over it. Adjust your expectations – we are all fallible, folks.

Laura B.

Thank you Jessica. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Being your true self, whatever that may be, is definitely the way to go!
-Brittni

papernstitch

Hey Brittni,

You definitely have guts for sticking to your guns and even blogging about this experience. That’s courage. And that’s way more important than the specific words we use. Its what’s underneath them that counts.

My whole life I kept my words ‘clean’ despite that I got crap for not using ‘language’. I never used a dirty word. Seriously. Up until a recent experience where I was way mis-stereotyped. Then I started an F-Bomb storm.

But coming out of that, I’ve realized that its still not me. So, I’m coming back to my true self. I don’t do that. But I don’t mind if others do, as long as they don’t give me a hard time.

All that to say. Just be yourself. Its the faking it that’s the real sin.

Jessica
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