Professionalism in the workplace
Mel Rising Dawn Cordeiro
We all have that one person, whether professionally or academically, that we cannot stand. It seems as if there is always someone around to make our lives harder by not pulling their weight at work, or even in a group project. That leaves us to scramble to finish their work, as well as ours. It’s frustrating. Especially when you know that you have to “play nice” for a variety of reasons.
Professional comportment, also known as professional conduct, refers to the way in which someone conducts themselves in a professional setting. This includes the way they act with their colleagues, clients, customers, etc., as well as the ways in which they present themselves in terms of how they dress, speak and act.
Comportment is an essential aspect of any professional environment, be it work or school, as it contributes to a positive and productive environment. It is important for people to understand what constitutes professional behavior and to strive to exhibit these behaviors consistently. Comportment can, in a sense, go hand-in-hand with respect for others and for self.
One aspect of comportment is communication. Comportment should include respectful communication with others, regardless of the roles the individuals play. This means avoiding offensive language and behavior, as well as avoiding interruptions and talking over others. Active listening is key here, as well as the ability to summarize what you have heard the other person say. This does not mean avoiding disagreements, as we are all only human with different opinions and thoughts. This does mean communicating in a respectful manner, with thought going into what you need to say. Approaching someone respectfully, even if they are not respectful to you, will go a long way.
Attitude is another important feature of comportment. A positive attitude is essential to showing professionalism. People who exhibit a positive attitude are more likely to be viewed as approachable and supportive, which can improve morale overall. Even if you are not feeling positive, put a smile on your face as best you can and push forward. Eventually, your mood will change as well, and it will be seen by everyone around you.
An extremely important aspect of comportment is appearance. Dressing appropriately for the setting you are in shows that you are respectful, responsible and read to take on the day. Of course, the outfit you choose needs to be appropriate for the setting you are in. For example, one should not consider wearing sweatpants to a job interview.
Yet another important factor is timeliness. Be punctual for the start of your shift, or for the start of class. Those who are consistently late, or who fail to meet deadlines can create a negative impression. This may be okay for school, but in the professional world, this may mean a dock in pay, or less of a workload.
Ethical behavior goes without saying. Being professional means acting ethically and with integrity in all aspects of work. This is also expected of us in the classrooms as we are expected to not cheat on exams. In a workplace setting, this also includes avoiding conflicts of interest, maintaining confidentiality where appropriate and following company policy and procedures.
Teamwork is also a huge factor of comportment. Working effectively as part of a team, even with people you wouldn’t normally work or get along with, shows maturity and dedication. Teamwork does not mean just working in a literal group with others. It also includes supporting classmates and colleagues and doing your share of the work in order to achieve overall success.
Lastly, in order to show comportment, one must show the willingness to continually improve. Being open to feedback of any type, being open to continuous learning and seeking help when needed are good ways to show that you are professional.
By exhibiting these behaviors consistently, you can contribute to a positive and productive work and school environment and enhance your own career prospects. It’s important to always be professional, even when others are acting unprofessionally towards you.