People love to comment on how professional someone is or isn’t, especially if they are irritated with the person. Professionalism is all about how someone acts and how they treat others.
Growing up, my mother had a different word for the same thing: manners. You knew how to act at the grocery store (no, the cookies are not yours, put them down), you knew how to act at school (if the teacher calls me you’ll be in worse trouble when you get home), you knew how to play with the kids on your street (sharing is expected), you knew how to have a conversation with other parents who were also in authority (Thank you, thank you Mr and Mrs. Greenberg!), and you knew how to act in church (no carrying on when the preacher’s preaching).
One could say there are some basic, maybe foundational, rules of conduct that apply to everyday life. If you master them, you will also be seen as “acting professional”. Here are a few things to consider that a professional-acting person does in her or his day job:
- Be on time, the world does not revolve around you
- Look people in the eye (unless in a culture that does not appreciate that, meaning you’re respectful and mindful of where you are)
- Pay attention when someone is talking (Put the phone down – it can wait)
- Don’t talk over others, allow them to finish their thought
- Keep your swearing to yourself (why share how limited your vocabulary really is)
- Treat people as people, not objects to do your bidding.
- Be respectful of other people’s time – be prepared, be organized, “be brief, be bright, and be gone”
This is only a starter list. I’m sure if I had more time to list “professional manners” we’d soon cross over into Miss Manner’s guide to basic living in rather short order.