A few weeks ago, I was asked to participate in Webucator’s Most Marketable Skill Campaign. I’ve never been asked to do something official like this before, so I was, of course, deeply flattered and more than a little nervous. The most marketable skill? What does that even mean? What skill transcends across all professions and positions from dog walker to Wall Street mogul? I was a bit stuck, contemplating this very issue.
And then a client started yelling at me, and things got real.
So I’d like to discuss professionalism.
What is professionalism? I googled it for a good definition and got this:
the competence or skill expected of a professional
Um, excuse me, but I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to use a word to define itself. So I kept digging. Merriam-Webster afforded me this definition:
the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well
Now that’s more like it! Professionalism is the art of conducting yourself with grace and dignity, no matter the circumstances. That means leaving personal prejudice, pride, and problems on the sidelines and showing up to play. Here are my top three tips!
Whatever it was, the perceived slight, the down right dig, that one time that coworker did that thing that really annoyed you, remember? It doesn’t matter. Unless the offense was truly actionable (in which case, you should speak to HR or the appropriate authority) just let it go. No one wins when office tensions make work difficult, least of all you. It requires an immeasurable amount of energy to actively hold a grudge and you cause more damage to yourself than you do to the “enemy”. Rise above, be an adult, and move on.
Respect has levels. There are those people whose opinion I hold in very high regard, and others whose advice is taken with a grain of salt. That is just good judgement. But everyone you encounter has the right to be treated with basic human dignity and respect. I don’t care if it’s the copy guy or the president of your company, everyone serves a purpose. Besides being just good form, this is the kind of behavior that potential and referring employers notice and it speaks to the quality of your character. As a bonus, you never know when Kenny the coffee guy is actually Mr. Moneybags’ son.
More and more, work place environments have become venues of group activity. Whether you work on a team regularly, or you are paired up for a specific project, learn to share the sandbox. That means compromise, listening more often than you speak, and giving credit where credit is due. Backstabbing and sabotage may seem like good ideas in the short-term, but the long-term consequences can be catastrophic for your career, and your work relationships.
All of this (totally sound) advice boils down to this. Be an adult, be a professional, treat it like a job. Rarely does true success follow a lack of integrity. Just saying….
Special thanks to Webucator!