It’s a common belief that it’s who you are on the inside that counts. Let’s discuss that.
Being good at a job does not mean that you are a professional. You may be an exemplary worker with skills everyone else in the workplace will never have, but it’s not likely that this will stand you in good stead with your boss if you continue to act barbed or indifferent. Your immaturity in the workplace can cripple your ambitions and can cancel out any amazing work you might be doing. Being professional isn’t being good at your job, it’s having the correct attitude towards your job. Professionalism is a behavioral trait and one that is eternally useful as a working man/woman.
The way you are perceived by others is the way you are to the outside world. It doesn’t matter if you think you are a courteous and decent human being, because if nobody can see that, then as far as the rest of the world is concerned, that is not what you are. As important as competence concerning your profession is, you still have to behave in a way that convinces people you are competent.
Human beings interact with the world and each other through the five senses: sight, scent, sound, taste and touch. The first thing people think of when they think of an image and identity is the sensory experience of vision. Making sure you are visually pleasing is a good idea in the sense that you have to use your visual image to assist people in understanding that you are competent and trustworthy. This includes body language and facial expressions, more specifically eye contact. Eye contact is a must for any potential professional- it proves you are someone who can be trusted and who is interested in engaging with his/her colleagues.
In terms of scent, it should be obvious that I am going to address personal hygiene. All workplaces are arenas of professionalism and you should fit that mould. Making sure that you are not obviously incongruent to the atmosphere with your own personal scent, whatever that scent may be, will be greatly appreciated. No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t smell that fresh. Conversely, however, avoid overusing perfume or aftershave so it pervades the working environment and people can think of nothing else. It’s a balancing act.
How you are audibly can impact how others perceive you just as much as how you are visually. It should go without saying, the way you talk says a lot about your attitude and level of intelligence. It might not represent it to you but it’s all your co-workers and superiors will have to go on. If you engage people instead of just replying to them, it implies you are keen to learn and be a part of a team, this is a professional characteristic. Furthermore, if you keep the level of questioning brief and efficient then people will assume competence as a given, instead of sitting in dead silence or chatting incessantly with whoever is nearby. Added to this, the conviction of your words will be of utmost importance. In any role, keeping to what you say you will do, demonstrates that you are trustworthy and have integrity.
It’s a bit of a leap but in an attempt to connect taste to professionalism, I’ll talk a tad about how you can seem courteous with food and drink. Tea-making is sacred and something everyone must go through. However one suggestion could be, do not wait to be asked, instead take the initiative of making whoever wants one, a tea. Of course, do not compromise yourself on your own tasks but try, when you have a moment free, to offer to make people tea or coffee, or whatever they prefer. being considerate will go a long way.
Touch goes beyond body language; it involves how you actually interact with the working environment. It could be something as simple as making sure you close doors properly and not allowing them to slam shut or careful manoeuvre of office furniture. Of course, not all jobs are in offices and as such the sense of touch will be relevant to the role you are in. Tailoring your approach to handling company equipment to one of understated competence is always helpful, regardless of working environment. It can convince people you are someone who does not need handholding and can be trusted with responsibility, however large or small that responsibility may be.
Professionalism, therefore, is something you can implement on all fronts. Every way you are communicating with the world is a way that could be expressing your level of professionalism. Handle yourself with this five-pronged approach and you will be exuding the image of a professional. Remember, it isn’t who you are on the inside that counts, but your actions, and what you continue to do and say, that will come to define you.
Blazers: Reiss, Blouse: Warehouse, Shoes: Office, Bag: Michael Kors