( I am omitting my real name)
Is professionalism an inherent trait, or is it something that should be taught in school? Does professionalism entail courtesy?
Professionalism is defined as " the competence or skill of a professional: the key to quality and efficiency is professionalism." (The New Oxford American Dictionary.)
Based on this definition, courtesy is not included in this definition.However, courtesy goes a long way to improve professionalism. One can have the skills to perform a task, but lack common courtesy, and therefore appear unprofessional.
No matter what industry one decides to pursue a career in, there are many things that can transcend industry barriers to promote professionalism. Whether you work in Finance, Healthcare, Restaurant, Retail, or any other industry, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you appear professional.
1. DO NOT badmouth your co-workers. Whether
done publicly or privately to other co-workers, bad-mouthing fellow co-workers is not a good idea. It should not be done within earshot of other employees, and it especially should not not be done within earshot of clients/customers/ patients, etc. It is never appropriate to belittle someone's education level or skill level. This is even more important to not bash the new employee who is doing all they canto learn the ropes of their new position. Badmouthing your co-workers sends a negative message. It does not foster teamwork. And it can be intimidating. It is also not appropriate to bad-mouth your manager. If you have an issue with a coworker, take them aside and discuss it privately.
2. DO NOT HIDE. Literally.
Do not hide in an exam room/kitchen/supply closet, etc to give the appearance that you are busy and inaccessible, while your co-workers are picking up the slack.
3. DO NOT undermine your co-workers.
Everyone has something to bring to the table. Also, see rule number 1, above, as that is also a form of undermining.
4. DO watch your body language and tone of voice.
Recently, I have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with co-workers that spoke to me like a defiant teenager. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of dealing with teenagers of your own,I encourage you to remember how you treated your parents when you were one. The tone of voice, the eye rolls, the hands on the hips,the walking away while being spoken to... this behavior also does not send a positive professional image. Conflict is not my strong suit,so this was especially difficult, because, personally, I wanted to throttle this person(s), however, I also had to maintain a professional image, so there was little I could do.
5. DO have the ability to accept direction, suggestions, and constructive criticism.
Sometimes,there are more than one way to do things. Sometimes, there are not.But instead of saying," This is the way we've always done things, " be open to discussion.
6. DO follow proper dress code and maintain proper personal hygiene. Do not
appear disheveled or frumpy.
7. DO NOT make inappropriate jokes about clients/patients/customers
(gallows humor) or about co-workers (blatant disrespect, intimidation).
8. DO NOT have inappropriate conversations
such as sex, bodily functions, partying, "hooking-up," etc at work. Work is not the place for these types of discussions.
I have worked in healthcare for a long time. It seems like some of these behaviors are running rampant. Are there any other industries where these types of behaviors are acceptable? What are your thoughts?