Professionalism is defined as a person’s conduct at the workplace. Despite the word itself, this quality is not restricted to what we describe as “the professions,” which are typically careers that require a great deal of studying and that bring in high salaries.  

Many cashiers, skilled workers and waitresses, to mention just a few, can demonstrate a high level of professionality, although these occupations require minimal training and such employees often end up barely making ends meet. On the other hand, many doctors, lawyers, and engineers—often called the professionals—can lack a sense of professionality in their work. 

Would anyone even notice if you do not act professionally at work? As long as you do your job well, who cares? Your boss, clients and colleagues will. They will notice if you lack this quality and, if it turns out that you do, it could have severe consequences for your career. It would be a big mistake to play down the importance of professionalism. It can affect your chances for advancement or even the ability to keep your job. 

How can we show our professionalism?  

Make being on time a priority – When you arrive late for work or meetings, it gives your boss and colleagues the impression you do not care about your job and, if it affects them, that you do not value their time. Pay attention to the clock. Show up at least a few minutes before you are supposed to start work and return from your breaks on time. 

Do not complain – Leave your bad mood outside the door. Do not take it to work. We all have days when we are not at our best. Do not argue with on your boss, your colleagues or your clients. If work is causing your bad mood, it may be time to think about finding alternative employment. 

Dress appropriately – Whether you have to dress up for work or you can wear more casual clothes, your appearance should always be appropriate and clean. 

Bite your tongueSwearing and foul language has no place in most workplaces. Unless you know it is tolerated at your place of work, do not use foul language, particularly if those who you might offend are present. A golden rule is: if it would offend your grandmother, do not say it at work. 

Give your colleagues a helping hand – a true professional is willing to lend a helping hand to their colleagues when they are drowning in work or facing a particular challenge. If your colleague rejects your offer, do not insist. They may prefer to work alone. 

Do not gossip – If you know something about someone you are burning to share, tell it to someone who has nothing to do with your workplace, such as your sister, mother, wife or best friend. 

Try to stay positiveNegativity is contagious. If you complain incessantly about your workplace, you will bring the morale down. This does not mean that you should not speak up about things you think are wrong. But if you are just complaining for no reason, you had better stop. 

Do not hide behind your mistakes – As hard as it may be, admit to your mistakes and do your best to correct them. Make sure you do not repeat mistakes.  Never blame others. Instead, set an example so that those who share responsibility for the mistake can step forward and admit to their part in it. 

Always be just – You will inevitably have a disagreement with your colleagues or even your boss. Do not stay angry. It does not matter how upset you are or how strongly you believe that you are right – shouting at the workplace is not tolerated and neither is name calling or door slamming. Calmly explain your opinion and be ready to walk away if the other person begins to lose control. Of course, you should never resort to physical contact. 

Do not lie – Dishonesty always makes you look bad, whether it is lying on your CV or calling in sick when you are not. A true professional is always honest.  

At the end of the day, being truly professional means doing all you can so that others see you as a dependable and competent person who commands respect.