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Mastering the Art of Professionalism

Updated: Apr 7

By: Sarah Cai

As you embark on your professional journey and begin your career, professionalism is a key element to your success. Check out these five tips on mastering the art of professionalism!

1. Early is On Time

The most important rule of thumb when it comes to showing your professionalism is also the most straightforward - Don't be late. Showing up late or rushing to be on time immediately gives employers, colleagues, peers, and clients a negative impression. Value others' time as much, if not more than your own. Show the respect you have for their time by being early to every commitment. While there will be times when emergencies come up and things are out of your control, try your best t plan ahead and think of worst case scenarios before you're faced with a time crunch. So hop on that Zoom five minutes early, arrive at client meetings 30 minutes ahead of schedule, and leave the house with plenty of buffer.

2. Communication is Key

Professional communication is both what you say and how you say it. While it's important to master the specific tones and appropriate wording for formal emails and presentations to stakeholders, it's also equally important to know how to casually chat with colleagues and peers. Practice active listening and always tailor your message to your audience. No matter what, clarity, consciousness, and courtesy are crucial.

And remember, non-verbal cues are also key. Your body language plays a huge role in how your audience receives your message. Learn to portray confidence and openness in your facial expressions, mannerisms, physical gestures, and body movements.

3. Appearance Matters

While showing up in a pantsuit and heels may be professional and appropriate for your first day at a corporate law firm, it may be a little awkward for a job interview at a little coffee shop in a quaint town. Professional attire can vary greatly across different cultures and industries. However, being presentable, clean, neat, and respectful is never out of style. That being said, observe the norms in your workplace and industry and dress slightly above the standard. It is always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.

4. Mind Your Manners

While it may seem old-school, good manners can set you apart from a crowd in the modern working world. The simplest gestures like saying "please", "thank you", cordially greeting others, and holding the door show that you're respectful and considerate. The best part of practicing good manners is in its ripple effect. Not only do you enhance your professional image, you're also inspiring others to step up their habits, contributing to creating a more empathetic, positive, and productive workplace.

5. Take Responsibility

Disagreements and mistakes are inevitable. A large part of cultivating a professional attitude isn't being perfect, but facing clashes and errors with grace. The only path to take after slipping up is to confront it head on and immediately mitigate damages. When handling conflict, do so respectfully and with an open mind. To come to mutually beneficial resolutions, you must always remember to aim for constructive dialogue, accept feedback, and listening to opposing viewpoints. As a professional, it is crucial to take responsibility and see bumps in the road as learning opportunities to improve in the future. We're all human after all!

Make professionalism a habit! Mastering professionalism in a business setting is all about showcasing care for yourself, your work, and your colleagues. These habits will benefit you not only in your current job but also in all aspects of your life.


About the Author:

Sarah Cai is a junior at Boston University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Administration. She is an Account Supervisor in PRLab this semester, overseeing the TheRealMe account team. Previously, she was an account executive for Boston Women's Market. She is originally from Beijing, China. Sarah is currently interested in PR opportunities in the entertainment, health, and tech sectors and she is excited to explore agency life.

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