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Professionalism in the Workplace

How do you define “professionalism?” The website defines professionalism as being: 1. professional character, spirit, or methods. 2. the standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur.

I have always viewed professionalism as encompassing one’s overall public presence in the workplace. More specifically, one’s appearance, behavior, and, maybe most importantly of all, the attitude you uphold. Let’s look at attitude first since it often overrides everything else – positive and negative attitudes.

The Positive Attitude: Like a bright, sunny morning, most people welcome it, agree upon its value, and hate to see it go. The Negative Attitude: Like that ominous, dark cloud swallowing the sun, most people can see it approaching from quite a distance, dread its arrival, and they can’t wait for it to go.

The manner in which you carry yourself says it all – like a certain swagger. Your body language speaks volumes long before you are close enough to converse with others, and those around you respond accordingly. When you have a ‘positive swagger,’ you walk with your head up, making eye contact with others as you approach, and you exude a certain assured sense of well being. Walking with your ‘positive prance,’ others invite you closer and want you in their conversation, they approach you for your feedback, and they seem to associate your presence with a general lifting of that ‘stress-cloud’ present in many offices. In sharp contrast, when you walk with your head down, avoiding other’s gaze, your ‘negativity’ almost leaks from you. As a result, you come across as hesitant, avoidant, and generally ineffective and lacking the ability to cope with the day’s challenges. You are now someone who finds others stop talking when they enter the room, and your presence raises the tension and stress in the room.

We must not underestimate the power of our attitude upon others, and ourselves. It may sound like the title of a once-popular book or outdated advice from someone’s grandmother, but it’s true – there’s a lot of power in positive thinking.

Now let’s consider how we treat others – coworkers as well as those who are the consumers of our services. For a good general guideline, how about the Golden Rule? The source describes the Golden Rule as:
The biblical teaching that one should behave toward others as one would have others behave toward oneself.
There it is – the Golden Rule – simple, direct, and always appropriate. How could anyone possibly argue with such time-tested logic? It fits all aspects of the workplace and every professional relationship – many would say it’s true for personal relationships as well. What a bright, shining lighthouse in what can sometimes seem a dark, stormy sea of coworkers and clients. It’s the perfect decision-maker when one is questioning, should I do/say this, or what if I do/say that? Given the person in question is of sound mind and has basic, appropriate personal boundaries, it seems highly unlikely this advice could ever lead anyone astray.

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