Thursday, February 10, 2011


What does professionalism mean to you?

One definition I found was: the skill, good judgement, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.

Skill. Good Judgement. Polite Behavior.

My friend Garret shares rants about customer serice on his blog from time to time. We've all had experiences in restaurants or stores or a help desk that weren't positive.

Sometimes, I think I have a somewhat unique perspective on things because I do work in a job that requires a good sense of professionalism.

I work in Corporate America. I sit at a desk and communicate by e-mail and phone all day long. I put together spreadsheet and analyze data and place orders and track shipments and attend meetings and lead projects. I interact with a wide variety of people in a wide variety of functions every day.

I've seen the utmost in professionalism. I've seen people handle difficult situations and conflict with amazing Good Judgement and Polite Behavior. I've seen people behave very poorly, too. I've seen people make choices that hurt others, that damage their reputation, that cause angst within a team or department, that make working relationship tenuous at best.

I think I've made it fairly clear that I work hard to live my life authentically. That means everywhere, all the time. Certainly, we all have different hats we wear for different jobs and expectations. But I don't do masks- just hats (and maybe a fetching scarf).

The way I treat people at church, at home, at school, and at work is the same.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Don't burn bridges.

Those are big ones, don't you think? And they apply to life and not just work situations.

Don't burn bridges. There are so many ways that this adage holds true. You never know when you will interact with someone in your future so don't burn that bridge because it might bite you in the future. You never know what opportunities might come out of a hard situation or out of big changes so don't burn that bridge because you might be missing out on something bigger and better.

Those sure are selfish reasons to not burn bridges.

How about... don't burn bridges because fire hurts people and causes damage. Your choices, your actions, your words have an impact. Be careful with them because once you light the fire, it can be hard to put the bridge out before it's burnt to a crisp and the damage and hurt you've caused can't be fixed.

Live each day with professionalism. Because isn't professionalism just a big old business word for being nice and respectful and kind and helpful to others? And isn't that just a great way to treat people anyway?



Garret said...

Me complain? Never. ;-) So, I wonder if it's not poor customer service but perhaps an overall deficiency in professionalism? I think that word encompasses a lot of traits. Rude-polite, knowledgeable (what's the opposite?), lazy-hard worker, etc.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Great post, Liz! Basically it all comes down to treating others with the respect, consideration, and maybe even compassion, with which you would like to be treated!

A friend of mine shared this FOX News article yesterday on Facebook ~ ~ Your post reminded me of it.

kbiermom said...

Good words, Liz. Sounds like you've been recently burned, though -- I'm sorry someone hurt you.

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