Email circa 2031: My dear sons, beware “The Toxic 12” – #10 The “Professionals”

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Hi boys

Didn’t think you’ll get this latest “toxic” email so soon again did you?

See, your dad is capable of keeping his word.

I’ve kept this one in the back burners for quite a while, but the time has come now to spill the beans on one of two adult working world’s biggest “liars” (I’ll talk about the other one in my next email).

But be warned, it’s going to take you by surprise.


This is Toxic #10, or the one I call the “Professional.” S/he’s the liar that calls you out with this maxim:


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This toxic corporate liar I’m calling out might cause more than a few to raise their eyebrows at me. Matter of fact, after I’m done and if this email should ever leak, irate executives are more likely to serve me a molotov cocktail than a margarita! 

I get it.

But you guys will hear me out first, right?

Even before graduating to join the workforce, you and many like you would have already gone through at least a brief period of working part-time as an intern or apprentice. Which means you would have heard this adage at least a few dozen times.

This phrase is likely used by someone who’s either your supervisor, or a colleague who’s been around the block a few more times than you. No doubt they might have meant well, seeing as you’re still a “kid who’s wet behind the ears”. So you’ll need close guidance and supervision to navigate the choppy waters in the corporate ocean.

But make no mistake. Few actually bother to unpack the meaning of it for you, let alone “show” you the way.

So what do you do? You undergo OJT (on-job-training) and pick it up by observing, mimicking and yes, repeating that phrase to the next reluctant Padawan!

What does “professional” really mean now?

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This phrase “be professional” is so over-used and abused over the decades of corporate history that it’s lost much of its original intent now when uttered.

Before, it spoke of doing work that’s effective, efficient and worthy of recognition for its excellence.

Nowadays, when someone snaps: “BE PROFESSIONAL!”, it’s just a put-downer, and one of many corporate lies.

It’s simply used as an insult, a rude remark, and meant to make you feel smaller than a Jawa. Half the time these toxic people don’t even know what they mean when they lash out at you with it. They just haven’t the time nor the patience to guide you to improve on your work. Truth be told, they don’t even have the self-awareness to realise the damage they wreak on your self-esteem.

(Or maybe they do — which makes it even nastier and far more toxic!).

To have even let it get to the point where such a phrase needs to be uttered simply means one thing: this “commenter” has let a lot of his subordinate or colleague’s work slip through the cracks without timely quality control on the work process and output. Or worse, the assigned task was a complete mis-match for the poor staff and his abilities in the first place!

So, when the proverbial sh** hits the fan, they grab the first scapegoat they can find and paste the “Unprofessional” sticker on his/her shirtfront – “TAG, you’re IT!”

So don’t buy into the lie when a ruthless corporate honcho points a dirty accusing finger at you and calls you out for it. No matter what the seniority, truth is that person’s most likely complicit in that piece of incomplete work to begin with.

Yes this same person who earlier claimed in front of you and your colleagues: “We’re a team!”

Yet what a different tune’s being hummed now when things go south!!

You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all!

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What’s that? My credentials to make the above assertion? And all previous email assertions?

You mean aside from me being your father?

Well let’s see.

For nearly four decades now, I’ve served in the military, worked in different government institutions that cover everything from tourism to infrastructure to communications to education. I’ve also worked in the bottomline-driven corporate world in areas as diverse as property auction, research and appraisal, as well as recruitment, digital and social media strategy training and development.

And yes, I’ve also worked overseas as a volunteer in the areas of teaching, community fostering and resource empowering. Not forgetting I once held one of the most challenging (but indisputably most rewarding) jobs in the world: that of being your stay-at-home-dad!

Through the years, I’ve seen all manner of people up-down-left-right of the corporate ecosystem. Young and old, junior and senior, subordinate and superior. Some I’ve had the good fortune to work with and learn from. Others…well let’s just say they’ve inspired me to pen this series of emails you’ve been getting from me on the cusp of your foray into the working world.

Okay, hope you’ve recovered now sufficiently from the surprise.

If not, then let me leave you with some time to process this while I sign off for now.

Looking forward to our family dinner this Friday!

See ya soon!

Lots of luv
Daddy Doofus

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