The Five Worst Mistakes You can Make as a Proposal Professional

As proposal professionals, we worry about typos and grammatical errors in our proposals, compliance, the clarity of our win themes, and the like. However, these challenges pale in importance to the most important one – learning to get along with our colleagues and working productively in the workplace.

When employees are polled, the most valuable trait they value in colleagues is unrelated to knowledge and skills. It is simply the ability to get along with others. The workplace is stressful enough; individuals do not want the added burden of dealing with difficult colleagues on a day-to-day basis.

We are all human and thus we sometimes say and do things in the workplace that we regret. Avoid these five mistakes and you are more likely to be considered a cooperative colleague. My list is adapted from a recent article on workplace mistakes in the Huffington Post.

1. Don’t backstab. Never make your colleagues look bad in public (or private).

2. Avoid excessive gossiping. Gossiping is an inevitable and sometimes constructive part of workplace conversation and politics. However, excessive gossiping makes you look petty and negative, and your colleagues will worry that you are talking about them in the same way behind their backs.

3. Don’t take credit for other people’s work. Proposals rely on teamwork. You may be the Proposal Manager or the Proposal Director, but you should realize that good proposals are a collaborative enterprise. Praise others and use the word “we” as much as possible when describing your work.

4. Don’t exaggerate and don’t lie. Do your bragging by being successful. People will respect you the more for it. No one likes a narcissist, and everyone loathes colleagues who try boosting themselves by exaggerating or lying about their work. Be modest – let the quality of your work speak for you.

5. Don’t burn any bridges. With our colleagues, clients, and partners, we must find ways to cooperate, even (or especially) in competitive environments. The company that unseated you from a recent contract may be your valued partner on the next bid. Despite what you may think of other people or firms, swallow your pride and learn to work with them – for your benefit.

Avoid being extreme and inconsiderate, and remember that your colleagues value cooperation above any other workplace trait. Make it easy for others to work with you, and you will thrive as a proposal professional.

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