Professionalism doesn’t mean you have to be staid. In fact, effective professionals find ways to be appropriately self-expressive. They stand out in authentic ways that attract interest and build rapport with others.
Some people confuse professionalism with a prescribed set of behaviors. Merriam – Webster defines professionalism as “the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.” Although true professionalism is a great thing to strive for, nowhere in this definition is there an imperative for universal compliance or sameness. Then, why are there still customer service, sales people, attorneys, accountants, even business leaders who dress and act like “professionals” and yet don’t seem fully alive?
Is there any requirement for a professional to be a clone or robot? Of course not!
You can be a consummate professional and still be fully self-expressive.
Here are some examples of self-expression in action. A dentist plays his special self-mixed music in the office and sings along while he works. A public speaker is less polished but more vulnerable and authentic and communicates her message powerfully. A waitress does cartwheels as she moves from the outdoor tables to the kitchen and brightens patrons’ spirits. People at a conference table who are refreshingly honest as they look for creative solutions that are profitable and a fit for their values encourage others to do likewise.
Talent is self-expression and how completely you use your talent has a huge impact on your job performance as well as your personal fulfillment. To be the best you can be at your job, you need to access more than the appearance of being professional, you need to express your Self fully.
If this idea hits home, here are some possible mantras you can adopt as your own.
Professionals have skill, good judgment, polite behavior and can be funny.
Professionals have skill, good judgment, polite behavior and can be passionate.
Professionals have skill, good judgment, polite behavior and can be creative.
Professionals have skill, good judgment, polite behavior and can be honest.
Don’t let the idea of professionalism kill your talent. A true professional never leaves his or her uniqueness on the sidelines.
Photo by: StephenMitchell