How to Be Professional at Work

Three Parts:Presenting Yourself in a Professional MannerCommunicating EffectivelyInteracting Professionally

Being professional is one of the most important aspects of being successful at your job. Your professionalism could open the door to other career opportunities, a raise, or even a bonus. Your demeanor towards your boss, your coworkers, and your clients should be courteous and professional at all times, from how you present yourself to how you communicate to how you interact with others at work.

Part 1
Presenting Yourself in a Professional Manner

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    Be well groomed and appropriately dressed. You should come into work every day clean and well groomed to ensure you have a professional appearance. You will also need to dress professionally based on the expected attire of your workplace. Avoid clothing that is too tight or too revealing and if you think something may not be appropriate for your workplace, don’t wear it.[1]
    • Gauge the dress expectations of your workplace by noticing what other employers are wearing. If everyone is wearing conservative attire, with suits, collared shirts, and long skirts, adjust your attire accordingly. Many workplaces have a business casual dress code, which may allow slacks or jeans as long as you still appear professional.
    • If possible, cover any tattoos and remove any piercings, unless your superiors are fine with you exposing them.
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    Follow the cultural norms of your workplace. Note how your coworkers operate in your office to get a sense of how things are done. You may note how people dress, and how they lower their voices when someone is on the phone nearby, or that they go into the staff room to have more casual discussions. You may also notice how your coworkers interact with clients during meetings, and how everyone always shows up on time, or a few minutes early for a meeting. Pay attention to the behavior of others to get a sense of what is considered professional in your workplace.[2]
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    Be on time for meetings and discussions. The majority of workplaces will expect you to be on time for all meetings, planned discussions, and to be at work by a certain time in the day. If you are not sure about the expectations around the start time for the work day, ask your superior. Most offices expect their employees to be in the office early in the morning to field any calls from clients and to ensure the office is functioning during regular business hours.[3]
    • If possible, try to get to meetings five minutes early to get settled and organized before the meeting begins. Avoid showing up more than ten minutes early for a meeting, as any earlier can throw off other people’s schedules and actually be inconvenient for others.
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    Maintain a positive attitude. Often, a professional attitude is a positive and motivated one. To be successful, you will need to demonstrate to others that you have the skills and knowledge to perform your duties and responsibilities. But in addition to expertise and know how, your employer will value a professional attitude that demonstrates character and integrity.[4]
    • Focus on being honest, reliable, a hard worker, and positive, day in and day out. Your job should be important to you, and you should value your successes, no matter how small or minor.

Part 2
Communicating Effectively

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    Bring a notepad with you to meetings and discussions. Avoid forgetting any tasks or appointments by always writing it down in a work designated notepad. You can use a digital notepad or a pen and paper. Show your professionalism by taking notes during meetings to stay organized and on track.[5]
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    Speak clearly, and speak up when necessary. To communicate professionally, you need to show you can write and speak with confidence and clarity. Be an active listener during meetings and discussions and wait until someone is finished speaking to share your thoughts. Speak slowly and concisely so everyone can understand your points and make note of them.[6]
    • If you notice problems or issues around a certain project or client, speak up to your coworkers and your superiors. Don’t ignore or avoid these conflicts. Instead, face them head on by alerting others to the issues and working together to try to problem solve.
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    Use email or the telephone, unless you need to discuss something face to face. Most workplaces encourage managing your time effectively by using email or a phone call to discuss minor decisions or issues. Avoid calling a meeting for topics that could be addressed in five minutes with a quick email exchange or phone call. Wasting other people’s time with unnecessary meetings can be seen as unprofessional.[7]
    • There may be an instance where you need to call a face to face meeting to discuss a major issue. If this is the case, send a meeting invitation by email to your coworkers and/or clients. Check your coworkers’ calendars to ensure they are available during the proposed time.
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    Learn to take feedback and act on it. Another key way to demonstrate professionalism is to be willing to learn from feedback. Remember that good feedback should be about your work and your results. It should never be personal. Getting angry or defensive about feedback can make you appear unprofessional. Instead, focus on learning from feedback and using it to improve the way you do things at work.[8]

Part 3
Interacting Professionally

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    Avoid office politics and gossip. It can be hard not to get sucked into the office gossip mill, especially if you are new to the workplace and are starting to get to know your coworkers. But staying out of office politics and gossip will ensure you maintain a professional reputation and do not get too involved personally with rumors or hearsay.[9]
    • Not talking about your coworkers behind their backs or based on gossip will also show you respect your coworkers and are willing to be honest and straightforward with them.
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    Be pleasant and respectful to your coworkers. This includes coworkers you may not get along with or see eye to eye with. If you have a coworker who you cannot work with, avoid working directly with them, if possible. You may consider talking to your boss or superior if you have constant issues with the coworker’s work attitude and performance. Avoid gossiping behind the coworker’s back or being openly rude to the coworker as this can seem unprofessional.[10]
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    Treat your boss like a possible mentor. If your boss sees potential in you as an employee, she may try to act as a mentor to you. So its important to maintain a relationship with your boss that is professional and humble. Avoid acting like you know more about the job than your boss does or that you are not willing to learn new skills or to take her advice. Having a mentor as your boss can lead to bigger career opportunities and the ability to expand your existing skill set.[11]

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Categories: Job Strategies