Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Last week I went to several events, including a testing conference, a networking/demo event, and accelerator event, and a symphony performance. One thing I heard at each of these was the concept of "professional".

At the symphony: "She [the soloist] looks like a cake topper! So unprofessional!"
At the testing conference: "Well, I really think that the onus is on us to be professional, even in ethical grey areas."
At the networking event: "So, are you a professional entrepreneur, or is this a side thing?"

There is a whole lot of drama wrapped up in the term "professional." The word simply means "paid to do something", but it has a lot of underlying meaning that basically amounts to "conforms to my expectations of what a good example of this____ would do, say or act". To call someone professional or unprofessional is to judge them.

So before you go using this "professional" shorthand, ask yourself what you're really trying to say. There are more precise words out there. Use them.

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