Hello my Imaginary Friends,
I was taught from a young age that the secret to professionalism was subservience.
- Don’t make eye contact;
- Call people Ma’am and Sir;
- Never call an adult, client, or superior by their first name;
- Always use formal pronouns (It’s a French thing);
- Don’t complain;
- Don’t get involved; and
- Don’t look or act differently than others.
It could be that my rural upbringing was extra strict or it could just be the area. If you wanted respect, you needed to give back to the community, or have money.
My mother isn’t who taught me this, she was a progressive feminist hippie. She taught me to judge people’s worth by what they did and said, not by their money or appearance.
This post by a nurse with amazing hair brought back a lot of frustrations for me. As have countless other articles or posts about “Kids these days”. You know, the ones about Pokémon Go, or those I’ve already complained about.
I deal with clients or customers in all of my jobs (Civil Servant, Layout Artist, Sales person, Coffee Roaster, and Author) and I think I can speak with some authority on how to be professional in this new and changing world.
Éric’s 5 Rules for Being Professional
5. Treat Everyone Equally
Respecting everyone and treating them as your equal is easy but has a huge effect. People like to feel valued and will think better of you for doing it. Nobody likes being treated as stupid or beneath them.
Don’t assume that because they’re wearing biker gear, that they’re part of the Hell’s Angels. They could just as easily be a Doctor or Lawyer that likes to ride a motorcycle.
It’s important to remember that this is about respect and not assimilation or standardization. Treating someone equally also means respecting their ways, beliefs, and how they want to be treated.
4. Judge Others by Their Actions
This is the simplest rule. If someone wears the perfect suit and looks like the perfect employee, it doesn’t mean they’re good at their job.
Don’t judge someone by their race, skin colour, make up, ethnicity, sex, gender, body alterations, sexual preference, clothing, religion, weight, attractiveness, etc.
Judge them by how well they do their job and how they treat other people. You can learn a lot about a person by how they interact with someone who can’t benefit them personally.
3. Never Denigrate Others to Elevate Yourself
If you’re good at what you do, be proud. Tell people that you’re proud. I am immensely proud of my book. It’s ok to tell people that you think your stuff is awesome.
Never denigrate others to elevate yourself. My book is a YA Urban fantasy and I think it’s entertaining, but I’m not going to sell it as better than *insert popular YA here*.
By insulting others you are not showing pride in your work but disdain for others. It doesn’t elevate you, it brings others down. This applies even when the other person’s work is absolute crap.
2. Work with Others
Those people you insulted? They have strengths and weaknesses. If they’re in your field, you’ll be around them again.
If you work with those you consider competition, they become allies. Sharing information can greatly improve both your work.
There are people who just suck and you don’t want to be around. They may be purposely mean, hateful, or destructive. It’s ok to cut those people out of your life or request not to work with them.
But remember #3.
1. Be Polite
Being polite is nebulous and fraught with cultural bias. In its most basic form being polite means the same as all the other rules.
But go one step further and say: Thank you, Please, and Sorry. To Everyone!
If someone accidentally hurts you, physically or emotionally, accept their apology. An I understand, or I accept your apology.
If someone does something for you, thank them.
Finally try your best to follow the immortal words of Wyld Stallyns:
“Be excellent to each other!”