To be successful in your career, you need more than just job skills
Knowing how to act like a professional is essential to a positive career experience. Professionalism is a series of traits that you can learn to cultivate on your own, no matter what kind of work environment you’re in. Displaying maturity, good judgment, and calmness is a good start. Here are some other tips for being more professional. Put these into practice, and watch how people change how they interact with you.
Work on your communication
A lot of conflicts at work arise out of people misunderstanding each other. The more clear and effective you can be at conveying your intentions, with words and tone of voice, as well as body language, the more other people will respond to you in the way you intend. But the first step in good communication is listening, and putting yourself in the shoes of the other person. Are you clear on what they expect to happen? Can you clarify anything for them? Can you help them to have a more pleasant experience during your time together? Once you have a sense of the answers to these questions, you can decide what will be most useful to say. Try to tailor everything you say and do to the situation at hand. Ask yourself if what you want to say is something they’re likely to find useful. If not, find another approach.
Focus on the positive
You’ll never find a job where everything runs smoothly all the time. When challenges do arise, one of the most helpful things you can do is to stay positive and remain focused on finding a solution. Others will quickly pick up on your commitment to helping, and you’ll be seen as a valuable member of the team.
Look towards resolving conflict
When you do find you come into conflict with someone at your job, whether it’s a coworker or an unhappy patient or customer, it’s best to try to defuse the situation. This might even mean taking responsibility and apologizing for something you don’t feel is entirely your fault, if it will make the other person feel you’re trying to move things forward. This is part of finding creative solutions to problems. It’s essential that you listen carefully to the other person’s side of the situation. If necessary, bring in a third party who can be neutral about helping you to resolve things calmly and respectfully.
There are going to be moments in your job that are frustrating. People make mistakes, can be inconsiderate, have outbursts, and say things that are unpleasant. You can almost count on it. The most important thing is not how others behave, but how you react. It’s good to keep a cool, even head, even in the most frustrating situation. Using manners—even when the person you are dealing with is being overtly rude—is an excellent tactic. It can keep things from escalating, and gives you a chance at resolving the situation as quickly as possible.
Notice yourself at work over the next several days. Are there any of these areas where you could improve? Can you take a moment in the middle of an interaction and ask yourself what the most professional response would be? Even this self-awareness can yield huge benefits in most work interactions. Give yourself a chance to be the best you can be. Everyone at your job will benefit—most of all, you!
This article is part of the Salter School’s weekly blog. Find out about the professional training programs we offer at our campuses in Fall River and Malden, MA. For more information, contact us or schedule a campus tour.