the art of professionalism

1) Keep conversations work-related and leave discussions about politics and/or religion for spaces that are receptive to your personal beliefs. If special accommodations are being requested, tactfully and respectfully do so with the proper point-person in management or human resources. If you have colleagues that don’t see the value in maintaining a professional environment, my advice to you is to steer clear and protect your career – you definitely want to avoid being guilty by association.

2) Being nice and showing appreciation goes a long way, and an attitude of entitlement will only isolate you from the team. More importantly, it dulls your talents and makes it difficult for others to see your value, even if you’re hitting home runs! Remember, perception is reality and it’s vitally important to your career that your colleagues and/or management view you as accessible and easy to work with. Doors open when people like you. It’s that simple.

3) Always maintain your composure. Life isn’t fair, and though it could be awesome to hold hands down the yellow brick road, that’s just not the way it is. And just like we can’t go ape on a client or customer that treats us unprofessionally, the same holds true for our colleagues and/or management. The key to doing this is by not taking things personally since more times than not, it’s not about you. The second key factor is to accept that we all are working hard, have stressors, and are just plain ol’ human. The day shows up a lot of different ways and remembering this will only help you stay in the pocket and be cool.

4) Cutting corners will kill your reputation. In fact, it breeds laziness and contempt for others who are doing their best job. When you go home from a day’s work knowing that you have done all that you could, there is a feeling of accomplishment. It also makes it easier to get up the next day to do it all over again. Let’s be honest, We all go to work to put food on the table and to take care of our families, so why not do the best job that we can to ensure that we have a job to go to? Once again, I’m keeping it simple here.

Photo: Bethany Legg

5) Don’t get comfortable. Maintain your appearance and professional edge. When you play at the top of your game it is only natural that your colleagues and management will treat you with respect and recognize your value, if for no other reason than they don’t want the competition to have you! Get to work 10 minutes early. Leave 10 minutes after your scheduled time off. Realize that every moment is a moment to network within your career, and not just after hours – you already have a captive audience.

6) Remember you were hired to help the company. Of course, there must be a fair and equitable exchange for you lending your talents, but the foundation for the relationship is built upon the company getting its needs met. This goes a long way when making requests, asking for raises, or getting an issue resolved. It’s not about you, it’s about your employer. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you’ll be on your way to having a successful career. Your employer is your client, and the customer is always right. It’s just a fact of life.

7) Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, eat the right food, and drink plenty of water. The same formula to become a Superstar athlete should be used to become a superstar in your professional career. Fundamentals are fundamentals. And though you may not be training for the Super Bowl, you are competing for the championship prize of having a stable and awesome quality of life. Approach your self-care the same way a Pro athlete does, and you too will win championships.

Cover Photo: Angela Franklin