Author Topic: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)  (Read 6189 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Isisnin

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 616
Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« on: February 24, 2013, 01:04:40 PM »
I’ve joined a newish nonprofit community group that is challenging in so many ways.  Personalities, dramas, etc.  One of the recurring issues is “professional”.  Individuals have taken to saying something is “professional” to get their way.

Yesterday, we had an exchange of emails about the “professional” way to use our name in a proposal being submitted. Tomorrow, we are going to discuss at our meeting.  From the email exchange and from private conversations with the president, I know that she is adamant in her opinion of how to use our name. As she has been beandipping any conversation about the name for some time, I’m concerned that tomorrow’s meeting is going to be heated and could use advice on how to handle.

BG:  Say our legal name is “Antique Linen Society of the Northeastern Mountain, Inc.”  The president always uses that full, legal name (meaning including the Inc.) on all correspondence, the web, etc.  Every time someone uses any abbreviation like “Antique Linen Society”, she changes it back to the full legal name if she can get to it before it is released.

Privately, she has insisted to me that both “Antique Linen Society” and "Antique Linen Society of the Northeastern Mountain" are unprofessional and that it frustrates her that so much of the organization’s correspondence is not written professionally.  I’ve pointed out that Inc is used for legal contracts and tax returns, that organizations like the New York Times don’t use Inc. when referring to themselves.  The Times uses the New York Times in the first paragraph and then switches to the Times.  She is unswayed.  It’s “Antique Linen Society of the Northeastern Mountain, Inc.” only to her.

FYI, in the last exchange of emails, she was outvoted on what initials to use (she wanted ALSNEM, but ALS won the vote).  Her response to that was a bit snippy and then she refused to talk about the name further and she was out voted on that.  Thus we are discussing tomorrow.

Recommendations on how to discuss at the meeting tomorrow?  I’d like to say that uncommon use of the full legal name is unprofessional or ostentatious.  Or that it make us sound like amateurs pretending to be professionals.  But I am concerned that words like those would be hurtful to her.  I’d like to persuade her, not hurt her.

Thanks for any help.

White Lotus

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 491
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 01:58:06 PM »
Businesses often use "nicknames" just like the New York Times example you mentioned.  I think citing examples like that would be helpful, and also the first reference in full, subsequent references by nickname would be a good compromise.  Make sure your acronym isn't already taken! ALS is the acronym for a well known illness, and charities related thereto, for example.

Katana_Geldar

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1757
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 04:47:40 PM »
Does she know that a legal name of a business can have little to do with their trading name? I uses to do books for about 12 companies that used many variations of the owners surname, but only one had his name for trading.

LazyDaisy

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 994
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 05:50:29 PM »
It might carry more weight if you can cite a widely recognized source. The Associated Press (AP) style used for newspapers, media etc. dictates that names of organizations, firms, agencies, universities and colleges, groups, clubs or governmental bodies are spelled out the first time the name is used. (i.e., on first reference) but abbreviated on second reference. She can argue with you and other volunteers, but it's more difficult to argue with the AP.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." — Douglas Adams

gollymolly2

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 06:02:08 PM »
She's the president, right?  I'm on your side in terms of preferring the shorter name. But it seems like a pick your battle situation. She has a very clear preference and she's the highest ranking person so just go with her preference.

Isisnin

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 616
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 07:22:34 PM »
Thank you for the responses.

I've printed out some examples to bring of how major organizations use their names.  As Lazy Daisy pointed out, the first time the name is referenced, organizations use their long name (usually without the Inc. at the end) as the first reference.  After that, the nickname or the initials/acronym are used.   So I've got printouts from a local, internationally famous University which does that. Plus a well-known non-profit that does the same. Also, I'm bringing local papers that do the same.

She won't acknowledge that businesses use trading/brand names, not legal names, when doing sales and public relations.  She just told me a couple times in the past that abbreviations or nicknames were unprofessional.  When I used examples of major organizations that used abbreviations or nicknames, she clenched her jaw and looked at the ground.  Afterwards, she still continued to edit out abbreviation or nickname for our group.

I haven't battled with her on this.  When she clenched her jaw, I dropped it. 

Two others brought this up via email yesterday and thus we're discussing it tomorrow.  Those two can be rude when voicing their opinions.  One actually once used the phrase "not up to my professional standards" while surfing on the smartphone during the meeting :o

So I'm trying to figure out a way to handle everyone diplomatically.  I'm leaning towards saying that an abbreviated name or nickname is used for "ease of the reader's comprehension". 

PS: our acronym is not a known/popular one, so we're good on that score, thanks WhiteLotus

JeanFromBNA

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2261
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 11:15:54 PM »
I got stuck with a long business name.  It's confusing and hard to remember.  I have  my personal name listed in the business directory so we can be found more easily. 

One of the most important factors in the promotion of any business is how easy you are to deal with.  Having an identity/brand that is easily recognizable in your industry is more critical to your objectives than making certain that everyone knows the legal name of the business.

If she won't give on this issue, can you work on a tagline or logo that communicates your mission?

Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8795
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 11:30:27 PM »
She's the president, right?  I'm on your side in terms of preferring the shorter name. But it seems like a pick your battle situation. She has a very clear preference and she's the highest ranking person so just go with her preference.

She's president, not queen. Most organizations like this are run democratically (and indeed the OP talks about matters being voted on) and sometimes the president doesn't get her way in a democratically run group.

I witnessed a group go down the tubes once in large part because it became a sort of unspoken rule that no one would ever vote no on anything. You were considered "rude" if you did. It led to a lot of bad decisions.

starry diadem

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 432
  • διάδημα: The Glass Hat
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2013, 02:34:59 AM »
Thank you for the responses.

I've printed out some examples to bring of how major organizations use their names.  As Lazy Daisy pointed out, the first time the name is referenced, organizations use their long name (usually without the Inc. at the end) as the first reference.  After that, the nickname or the initials/acronym are used.   So I've got printouts from a local, internationally famous University which does that. Plus a well-known non-profit that does the same. Also, I'm bringing local papers that do the same.

She won't acknowledge that businesses use trading/brand names, not legal names, when doing sales and public relations.  She just told me a couple times in the past that abbreviations or nicknames were unprofessional.  When I used examples of major organizations that used abbreviations or nicknames, she clenched her jaw and looked at the ground.  Afterwards, she still continued to edit out abbreviation or nickname for our group.

I haven't battled with her on this.  When she clenched her jaw, I dropped it. 

Two others brought this up via email yesterday and thus we're discussing it tomorrow.  Those two can be rude when voicing their opinions.  One actually once used the phrase "not up to my professional standards" while surfing on the smartphone during the meeting :o

So I'm trying to figure out a way to handle everyone diplomatically.  I'm leaning towards saying that an abbreviated name or nickname is used for "ease of the reader's comprehension". 

PS: our acronym is not a known/popular one, so we're good on that score, thanks WhiteLotus

How about world-wide organisations such as the UN or the BBC?  I grant you that the Beeb may not be universally familiar, but isn't there a BBC America channel you can point to as an example?  CBS News?  She probably doesn't think twice about using acronyms there and they're familiar and everyday
Mysterious ravens go after local farmer's potatoes


Bethalize

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4733
    • Toxic People Survival Checklist
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2013, 04:34:41 AM »
The best parallel I can offer is to consider it like a person's name. After all, your organisation is an entity with which people feel they have a relationship. Insisting on calling it American Linen Company Inc is like knowing someone who insists on you calling them Professor Sir John Smith every single time you mention them or address them. It creates an artificial distance without engendering respect and actually, it is just plain wrong. "Professor Sir John Smith, would you like a coffee?"

Even Her Majesty gets addressed as "Your Royal Highness" first and then "Ma'am" thereafter.

YummyMummy66

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 763
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2013, 08:19:00 AM »
Can you do a majority vote?

Does the president have final say on all things? 

If not, I would put my hand up and say, "Let's take a vote.  Who votes for so and so?  Ok, nine hands.  Who voties for so and so? Ok.  two hands.   First vote wins.  Onto next subject and dive right in to that subject".

Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8795
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2013, 08:31:14 AM »
The best parallel I can offer is to consider it like a person's name. After all, your organisation is an entity with which people feel they have a relationship. Insisting on calling it American Linen Company Inc is like knowing someone who insists on you calling them Professor Sir John Smith every single time you mention them or address them. It creates an artificial distance without engendering respect and actually, it is just plain wrong. "Professor Sir John Smith, would you like a coffee?"

Even Her Majesty gets addressed as "Your Royal Highness" first and then "Ma'am" thereafter.

Ha! There's a good point and I think you can bring it up.

I also, when I see promotional materials where someone has used the style this president prefers, think it sounds like a boilerplate with the organization name mail-merged in. It's so stilted and makes it look like human eyes never actually read it over.

bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12290
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2013, 10:35:57 AM »
What is funny is that if you have a long, awkward name and dicate that it not be shortened, people are going to shorten it anyway. It is better that you control what it is shortened to so it is reasonable and consistent.

For example, our product used to have a short name, like netProduct*.  But it didn't really indicate what it did, so the PTB decided all our product names should indicate what they did and do what they say. Sounds reasonable...new customers could get an idea what it was faster.  So it was changed to Network Processing Provisioning Manager.  We were told NOT to abbreviate/acronymize it.  Never.
But nobody is going to say that every time! Too long, too awkward.  They did persist in the no abbreviations for a while, but then reasonableness took over and we would start with Network Processing Provisioning Manager in a document/presentation and then after that refer to it as NPPM.



*names changed to protect innocent software

Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8795
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2013, 10:37:27 AM »
What is funny is that if you have a long, awkward name and dicate that it not be shortened, people are going to shorten it anyway. It is better that you control what it is shortened to so it is reasonable and consistent.

For example, our product used to have a short name, like netProduct*.  But it didn't really indicate what it did, so the PTB decided all our product names should indicate what they did and do what they say. Sounds reasonable...new customers could get an idea what it was faster.  So it was changed to Network Processing Provisioning Manager.  We were told NOT to abbreviate/acronymize it.  Never.
But nobody is going to say that every time! Too long, too awkward.  They did persist in the no abbreviations for a while, but then reasonableness took over and we would start with Network Processing Provisioning Manager in a document/presentation and then after that refer to it as NPPM.



*names changed to protect innocent software

Or, when you go to a restaurant and they want you to order the Sizzlin' Fire-Roasted Sugar Glazed Chicken Fajitas with Red Pepper and Vinegar Sauce instead of the chicken fajitas. No one really does that IME!

Giggity

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8622
Re: Your professionalism is unprofessional (long)
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2013, 11:05:54 AM »
Ask her about IBM and NASA and the IRS.
Words mean things.