AT A recent training session, a very interesting question came up.
It soon became apparent that this is of particular concern to all the participants.
The magic question that made everyone put on their thinking cap was, "what is professionalism''?
The answers varied but there seemed to be a general lack of succinct understanding of the concept.
To start with let us agree on something -- just because one is a professional, he or she automatically does not exhibit professionalism.
A very general, raw idea of professionalism is a bundle of the following concepts: a focussed approach, pride in what one is doing, confident, competent, motivation towards a particular goal, accountability, respect for people irrespective of rank, status and gender, responsibility while on the path to a particular goal, commitment to word and deed, control of emotions - well, you are beginning to get the idea now.
Basically it all boils down to where you leave out emotional upheavals and stay focussed on the issue no matter what the issue is or how stressful and trying a situation turns out to be.
Cool as a cucumber, grace under pressure, while keeping the total focus on what one is supposed to be doing and accomplishing.
You will be exhibiting professionalism if you:
Base business related interactions to facts, figures and purely on the logic and understanding of the situation at hand.
Do not get carried away by the passion of the moment.
Emotions vary by individual sensibilities and of course, cultures.
So stay focussed and keep bringing the person gently back on the issues. Otherwise you will lose complete control over yourself and the situation.
A business interaction has a purpose and a goal. An excessive amount of jocularity of "kidding around'' will be seen as flippant.
That does not mean that you pack up your natural sense of humour. Be mindful of when you are crossing the line. There is a tasteful limit to everything.
The ideal is a combination of light humour, where and when appropriate with a complete seriousness to moving towards the goal that is demanded of the interaction.
Understand your "corporate culture'' and function within its parameters.
Every business must set forth, not only to develop its own identity but also make sure that it is understood and translated in behaviour by the employees.
All the corporate policies otherwise will remain just that, policies on paper.
Understand how to treat superiors, peers and subordinates with the utmost courtesy and in the proper accepted norms.
That will differentiate you from the rest by giving the cutting edge advantage.
More than your technical expertise and academic accomplishments you will be remembered and admired for your strict codes of conduct in your interactions.
Accept the fact that you are there to accomplish a definite task and that should be done with complete integrity, commitment and pride in your job.
This is just the raw data to get you started. The whole concept of professionalism can be very confusing with so many concepts going into it.
It is not something that is measured in any test where you are given scores.
It is there in a very subtle way making a statement about you and others are constantly taking down notes on you. For starters, stick with all the ideas given here and you should be able to survive any professional situation with great professionalism! Best of luck!