There are a variety of generations, personalities, educational accomplishments, values and ethics in today's complex workplace. A good leader recognizes that he/she must set mutually agreed upon standards for professionalism. Many people tend focus on external characteristics when discussing this highly subjective topic. Professionalism is so much more than focusing on the clothes you wear.
Whether you are a recent college graduate or a seasoned professional, there are three "C"s employers across all industries and disciplines want to see for increased productivity, retention and harmony. From a CEO's to janitors, these basic skills can be practiced by everyone to raise the standard of professionalism in any work environment.
A true professional needs to be able to write and speak effectively. Demonstrating professionalism as it relates to communication has to do with the day to day spoken and written words we exchange. If your email takes more than one screen to explain you should probably call or try see the person face to face. Always quickly read over what you have written before you send it. Eliminate unnecessary details. Every professional, written communication should include what, when, where, why and a summary of the next step or what you are asking for. Don't use email or text to avoid difficult conversations. Verbal communication can build or break relationships. True professionals think before they speak. They answer questions clearly and concisely. More importantly, they ask intelligent questions and listen thoughtfully to the answers.
Many individuals desiring to be professional mistake having a harsh, hard attitude for confidence. Confidence does not mean you know it all or have the right to treat others harshly. Confidence means you listen as much as (or more than) you speak. Confidence is a silent strength that comforts as well as motivates others. It is the thoughtful courage to maintain integrity and make decisions that benefit the organization or situation even if it means being unpopular. Professional confidence involves a willingness to make a decision or move forward when no one else will. A confident professional knows when to confront, when to correct, when to encourage and when to be silent.
Everyone has their reasons for behaving a certain way in the workplace. It is never acceptable to be rude or abusive to people no matter your title. Insecurities play out in different ways for leaders and employees. Some people may be overly sensistive to direction or correction and misinterpret direct communication. True professionals consider the fact that there are a variety of communication styles in the workplace. It is important to be able to adjust style according to the situation or person. True professionals do not seek to dominate a conversation in the office or in office related social settings. They know when to listen and how to ask questions to get others engaged in the decision or discussion.
Whether you are a leader, employee or volunteer, try practicing and being aware of these 3C's for one week. Remember, time spent improving yourself cuts down on time wasted disapproving of others.