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August 22, 2011
You May Be a Flake If...
No one thinks they lack a sense of humor, have poor grooming habits, or are a huge flake that people can’t rely on. While I’m sure you’re extremely funny and smell delightful, how can you be sure you’re not that flake everyone snickers about when you leave the room?

It’s actually a tricky question, because the flakier you are, the more oblivious you are about your flakiness. And the people you work with may have created ways to work around you, which is ticking them off.

While you may not consciously be trying to tick off people, the problem is that you aren’t consciously making an effort not to either. This thoughtlessness can derail your professional and personal relationships.

The key to avoid all of this is to recognize if you’re being a flake in the first place. So, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you may be a flake if:

1. You’re late. Meetings, lunches, flights: If there’s a specific time you should be somewhere, chances are you’re going to show up well after the appointed hour. Each time you’re baffled by why you’re always late. It’s not charming or quirky. It’s irresponsible and thoughtless.

2. You call at the time you’re supposed to meet. If you’re meeting someone at 1 p.m., how can you not realize until 1 p.m. that you’re not going to make it on time? Those Star Trek transporters don’t actually exist in the real world. 

3. You never check your voice mail. It’s understandable that you don’t like it. So instead of leaving a greeting saying, “Leave a message and I’ll get right back to you,” switch it to, “I don’t check my voicemail so don’t leave a message.”

4. You don’t answer email. I know, all the kids think email is incredibly 2005, but not everything can be handled by text. Reply to the email that needs responding to and that way you won’t have to deal with three more follow-up emails and a phone call asking if you received the contract.

5. You don’t follow up when you say you will. Don’t agree to edit the TPS report by EOD, write a recommendation, or forward the marketing deck if you’re not going to do it. Bonus flake points for getting mad when someone has to keep asking you when it actually is going to be done.

6. You skip official thank yous. Why is it that someone can put a lot of effort into giving you a great sales lead, a reference for a job, or help resolving a squirrelly software issue, but you don’t have time to properly thank them?

All it takes is a bit of conscious thought to stop being a flake. So why not try it? The non-flakes in your life will officially thank you.

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As the editorial director of Mojo40.com, Susan Kim’s goal is to help people over 40 get their career mojo back with content that is helpful, entertaining, and free of marketing-ese like shifting paradigms. She previously was the creative director at advertising.com (AOL). You can connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter.
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