Cultivating an Attitude of Professionalism at Work

by TJ Eggleston on August 1, 2018 in Concero, Professional Development



Professionalism means everything. It’s your currency, your hallmark, and what will ultimately keep you moving up in your career. Your professionalism has to be backed by your actions and your attitude, not just what you say.

This quote by author and executive leadership coach, John C. Maxwell, should be the mantra for every working professional.

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”

If you want to be respected and treated professionally, then make sure the way you conduct yourself doesn’t include a bad attitude, negativity, selfishness, or rebellion against the cultural climate. That seems simple enough to avoid, right? I’ll expand on this topic, so you know how to stand out as a team player.

Here are a few ways to cultivate an attitude of professionalism.

Understand the Organization’s Expectations

Every workplace has a unique culture — expectations arise from that. Your workplace will have its own set of norms, and part of being professional is following those unwritten rules. Some organizations are more casual, where people can pop into one another’s offices with quick questions. Others have a heavy focus on following protocol for everything from communications to when people take breaks.

Falling within the expectations of your company culture shows that you have a respectful attitude. Doing the opposite can make you stand out, but not necessarily in a good way.

A Concero Helpful Hint:

If you aren’t sure of what your company culture dictates, ask a coworker with whom you are friendly. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simply ask: “What do people usually do about [subject in question]?”

Accept Feedback Graciously

Feedback is an important part of learning. Accepting it graciously and gratefully is key to a professional attitude.

Whether from a colleague, a supervisor, or a client, feedback is meant to help you do your job better. Even if it is critical, you should avoid taking it personally. You are not your mistakes; use feedback to learn and grow and know that you are gaining valuable experience.

A Concero Helpful Hint:

During a conversation or meeting in which you are getting feedback, remember that your body language is as important as your words in showing that you are not defensive. Uncross your arms and smile. Thank the other party for their feedback.

Stay Away from Gossip and Office Politics

Leave the drama for the evening TV reality shows. Work should be a place where you are seen as a professional, not auditioning for Big Brother. Gossiping and getting into office politics will ultimately harm your reputation.

A Concero Helpful Hint:

If a coworker around you is gossiping, you can take a no-nonsense, neutral approach and politely step away from the conversation or calmly state that you’re not interested in taking part in talking about someone behind his/her back.

Dress the Part

As much as people notice your attitude, they also notice your appearance. If your company has a dress code, be sure to follow it. This goes back to being aware of and adhering to organizational norms. If your appearance goes against the dress code, you’re making it obvious that you think you can disregard the rules.

A Concero Helpful Hint:

Even if there is no dress code, make an effort to look neat and groomed every day. Don’t wear wrinkled clothes or be covered in pet hair. In business, pride in appearance often correlates to pride in your work.

Keep Notes and Records

Whether you are new to the job or have been in your position for a while, having accurate notes and records ensures that you come across as knowledgeable and professional, even under pressure. Take notes at meetings, during and after phone calls, and any other time information is conveyed. Do this for your records and future planning.

A Concero Helpful Hint:

When you are getting used to a new space, attending a meeting with a large group of people or have new coworkers, you can create a map to help ensure you have all the right details. Note where people sit, what their names are, and any other pertinent information.

Proofread Your Communications

While you are writing things down, make sure that you use the correct spelling and proper grammar. People will judge your communication skills. Anything you write is on the record forever. Also, be aware of how your attitude comes through in your correspondence. Sarcasm and “off-hand” remarks don’t belong in email, as it is impossible for people to understand your intention or read your body language.

A Concero Helpful Hint:

There are many browser add-ons, websites, and apps that go beyond the traditional spell check to hone your communication skills. Email has become the SOP for most workplaces, but that doesn’t mean that you should always forgo traditional salutations; if you’re sending a message to an executive in your firm or a client, make sure to say use a greeting that isn’t too informal (not “Hey there!) and include a “thank you” in the sign off.

When you incorporate these habits, your colleagues and supervisors will surely see that you have the right perspective, which will carry you very far in your career!

As a recruiter, I definitely look at skills and experiences, but I also pay close attention to professionalism and a candidate’s attitude… that’s why it’s important for me to meet with people and talk to them in person.

Ready to put that professionalism to work? Connect with Concero, and we can help you find your next dream job!


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