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What does it mean to be a professional?





Bluedoll
In a career, you go to work and perform tasks. You are asked to do this as a professional if you are in an occupation that requires this kind of qualification. In your duties, if someone says something personal or if the subject is about unrelated job requirements you can avoid these types of conversations by bringing into the subject you are acting as a professional should.

If you want to put things into nice little compartments you can simply state in any conversation, “this is not personal.”

You can then go on with a conversation making everything you say seem very business like. This to me is ok but it is kind of an allusion.

The truth is professionalism is about the person. If you are a professional it is all about you and that means both in career and personally.

Care to comment?
watersoul
Ooh, thats a deep one, and got me thinking so here goes.

If I buy a wiper blade, bucket, sponge, cleaning liquid, ladder etc, do a few houses and get paid for the work then I could call myself a professional window cleaner in conversation to others.

In formal career terms though, a profession would be regarded as a lawyer, doctor, architect and the like.

Acting professionally, to me, would be the sort of thing I do in work daily:

Controlling my emotional responses so I show the appropriate feeling relevent to the situation.

Following all the rules I've agreed to in my contract, and always retaining a position where I appeared to have followed them when I haven't really.

I could think of more, but these two sum up my view that "being professional" at work is totally about acting and playing a certain part at whichever time its appropriate. It's not real, but at the same time it is real.

Every choice I make in life, be it as an employee or individual, is based on my own ethics & morals and my own particular version of right and wrong. In work, I'm in a situation where another set of rules must be complied with, and my compliance of these rules determines my continuing employment.
I have pseudo-friendships with many work associates and stick to the "professionalism" in meetings etc, because apart from the interest in our work, we share very little.
For that reason, I'm "professional" in work, and the written & sometimes unwritten status or type of interaction expected between employees is the path I sometimes have to choose. Friendly, but only for the time I'm paid to be there, and as deep or shallow as the rules I signed up to.

So yep Bluedoll, I'd completely agree it's all about the person, but the truest face of my person is never when I'm being professional, I'm complying with someone else's rules then! Laughing
Bluedoll
@watersoul - fantastic

I do know what you mean.
We all in the course of our life meet professional’s.
I am in accord that often we do associate the word professional solely to work. If a tradesman is skilled and obtains superior results we call it such. Occupations of a more formal career cares with it a slightly different profession status but a status only does not guarantee professionalism.

In our own personal work related positions whatever they may be we have adapted and taken on responsibilities as you said so well “in a situation where another set of rules must be complied with, and my compliance of these rules determines my continuing employment”

Sometimes our compliance can conflict with our own ethics, morals and values. This is so true as you pointed out. Whether we do willingly comply or are forced to accept our role can we still live our career lives in a professional manner, I am wondering? To me this is a perplexing question and I also struggle greatly with the actress part.

My belief is when all the dealing is done and the day is coming to a close we are still accountable for our actions and in the end we can aspire to call ourselves masterful of our fate or not.

Purposely, I have attached more of a character trait to the professional than status, I know. You see, when I must deal with companies and need to rely on someone who I hope has integrity because I do not fully understand my position, I just need to trust. I look at the person not just the organization, attempt to understand if they are simply explaining policy but have this undying urge to walk away if I think that person is lying, acting or being a fraud to themselves? To me this is non-professionalism.

Approaching people on personal and independent levels helps me determine what is real and what is a big act.[/i]
watersoul
Bluedoll wrote:

Purposely, I have attached more of a character trait to the professional than status, I know. You see, when I must deal with companies and need to rely on someone who I hope has integrity because I do not fully understand my position, I just need to trust. I look at the person not just the organization, attempt to understand if they are simply explaining policy but have this undying urge to walk away if I think that person is lying, acting or being a fraud to themselves? To me this is non-professionalism.

Approaching people on personal and independent levels helps me determine what is real and what is a big act.[/i]


Really interesting thoughts Bluedoll, my gosh aren't we going deep here Smile

Regarding the trust issue, I totally understand what you're saying, but I just get around this by trusting very few people who are involved solely in the work side of my life. The relationships I build there are full of people acting a part when it either suits them, the organisation, or simply workplace harmony - myself included. Trust is always a risk in an environment that depends on skilled performers acting their professional parts.

At its most basic level of acting, the simple smile we might give a client is pure performance, when we're actually feeling miserable about something in our private life.

The lines like "I totally understand how you're feeling" to a client are an act, when all along you think they're an obnoxious unreasonable person.

It's an act when we pretend to be devoted to the job at an annual review/personal development meeting etc, when inside we know that if something better crosses our path we'll probably chase it if its within reach of us.

It's an act when we smile at the boss and say "of course I don't mind this short notice meeting at the end of the day", but you know you'll miss that fun time with your "real" friends and feel angry/sad/frustrated inside.

It doesn't matter where I've worked or whichever sector, I see the same patterns. To me, the whole working environment is full of people paid to act in some way. It's a contrived pseudo society where people are forced to interact with each other but not because they share similar interests etc, but because they either chose the particular company/organisation/sector, or it was the only opportunity available and they need to earn money.

In short, to me anyway, being a professional really is all about acting.
Never breaking my own ethical/moral codes though (I've resigned twice in my life for that reason), but portraying whatever image/style that I'm being paid to portray at any given time.
I'm never false to anyone if a conversation involves feelings, or a direct question of "what do you think" etc, but I keep most work relationships quite shallow if they're not people I see outside work, that reduces the issue.

To me, professionalism (in that acting sense) is a standard I even impose on all management senior to me. I absolutely expect them to conduct themselves in the same rational, non-emotive way as everyone else, and I've challenged aggressive bosses on a few ocassions when seeing colleagues with less confidence than me suffering at the receiving end of a "non-professional" verbal outburst. They're paid more than me to be better actors!
Basically, if there's a set, standard, professional way of conducting ourselves, then it cuts through the whole employment structure, and as a side thought, I do wonder if perhaps that standard act "professional style" is the main thing that allows workplaces to function as they need to?
Bluedoll
Deep, suppose this is true but how else can these questions get answered? I am so glad you wrote the above. Perhaps someone on the internet, someday in a random search will find our written thoughts and it will have some kind of impact on their questions too and who knows . . . but that may be just wishful thinking. Well, we will just have to co-write a book then @watersoul and try to reach people on this most personal level.

I think, the only way to get a question answered is to try to get the words out in a manner that is understandable to others. Why a thought is an illusive thing is it not and any attempt at communication can only be tried, never fully accomplished? That is so deep!

You have a commendable way of describing the working environment filled with actors. It is something that I’ve always believed was true yet for some reason, perhaps it was fear of management, that kept me quietly obedient in case they might pounce on me for saying it. What an unfounded fear that is now for I don’t work with them anymore so there is nothing they can do to me now.

Professional actors and actresses indeed! Workers in a movie industry on both sides of the table, the speculation for me is always, what is real here? Perhaps this brutal demise of professionalism extends into upper management or the powers to be have failed to inspire the lower ranks with enough incentive to think the unthinkable and motivate them act with integrity.

Please, be aware that there are exceptions in asking for this demeanor for in the gaming industry we can not have a dedicated moral conduct, for after all it is only a game right? Therefore, sarcastically speaking, we might have an outlook towards our accountant, insurance agent, lawyer, or perhaps even our druggist/doctor, sigh and admit that everything is just a game, not to mention our highly respected appointed government representatives whom we rely on to hopefully do the right thing.

What is professionalism? Is it a value that is on the top of the list as the most important commodity we can reach for which a person can boldly achieve to or is it a fake front one lists on their daily resume?

I think you were 100% accurate and right in your analyze of a standard gone astray. My only question now is one that applies to my life as well as I ponder over any arrested developments unfolding which is forever binding in me. What is in this life for us if we do we stand fast for our integrity and values and just go for the prize or should we accept payment and run?
HoytJolly
One of my favorite line about being a professional is that "I get paid for it." At the low end of the scale, this is undeniable. I have been an amateur actor for a while, and I have always been envious of people that can get paid for being on stage. On the other hand, being professional has different meaning entirely (I don't think that many professional actors act very professional.) Being professional means that your behavior does not get between you and you task. You are your job, and not some sniveling little teenager trying to get even with the world for forcing him/her to work. It requires a degree of knowledge, work ethic and experience.
c'tair
I'd read 'professional' as getting paid for doing something. Acting professional would be acting in a cool and calm manner that satisfies a few social rules.
Greatking
i totally agree with the notion that professionalism is about the person, there is a saying that you can lead a horse to the riverside but you cannot force it to drink the water, so it is with life, you can teach people to be professional they may even try but the attitude always protrude. i believe professionalism is in the attitude of every person, it may depend on many factors, one is how you were brought up, your educational level or your outlook on life. so that you may try to be professional at work but at the end of the day who you are comes out.
deanhills
c'tair wrote:
I'd read 'professional' as getting paid for doing something. Acting professional would be acting in a cool and calm manner that satisfies a few social rules.
Good description. Especially like the "satisfies a few social rules" part. I wonder what happens when the social rules are in conflict with cool and calm manner. For example, a Union may call on "professionals" to go on strike. What is professional in this specific case? Doing the job to the best of our ability, or following social rules? Smile
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
c'tair wrote:
I'd read 'professional' as getting paid for doing something. Acting professional would be acting in a cool and calm manner that satisfies a few social rules.
Good description. Especially like the "satisfies a few social rules" part. I wonder what happens when the social rules are in conflict with cool and calm manner. For example, a Union may call on "professionals" to go on strike. What is professional in this specific case? Doing the job to the best of our ability, or following social rules? Smile


I have performed my professional part easily in the past while going on strike, always strictly following the written rules of my rights and my obligations.
For the record, I have never gone on strike over my pay, but I have a few times on behalf of workers more vulnerable in my organisation, in solidarity for their cause and following the rules of the strike. If the procedures allow it and it's legal (and I agree with it), I will politely withdraw my labour in a professional manner. My explanation to senior management will be (and always has been) in a factual and non emotive style, and within whatever rules are set by whoever sets them.

...the poor soul who cannot withdraw their labour by choice is a slave.
deanhills
watersoul wrote:
deanhills wrote:
c'tair wrote:
I'd read 'professional' as getting paid for doing something. Acting professional would be acting in a cool and calm manner that satisfies a few social rules.
Good description. Especially like the "satisfies a few social rules" part. I wonder what happens when the social rules are in conflict with cool and calm manner. For example, a Union may call on "professionals" to go on strike. What is professional in this specific case? Doing the job to the best of our ability, or following social rules? Smile


I have performed my professional part easily in the past while going on strike, always strictly following the written rules of my rights and my obligations.
For the record, I have never gone on strike over my pay, but I have a few times on behalf of workers more vulnerable in my organisation, in solidarity for their cause and following the rules of the strike. If the procedures allow it and it's legal (and I agree with it), I will politely withdraw my labour in a professional manner. My explanation to senior management will be (and always has been) in a factual and non emotive style, and within whatever rules are set by whoever sets them.
Cool and detached as opposed to hot and bothered. And sticking with the rules. That sounds right on for being professional. I've never been tested in this regard as I have never been a member of a Union, hence my curiosity. Smile
watersoul wrote:
...the poor soul who cannot withdraw their labour by choice is a slave.
I'm presently in that position. I'm an expat working in the Middle East presently, on contract, and I've considered myself a slave right from the beginning. All of the expats here, in my opinion are professional slaves. No Unions, no recourse.
slashnburn99
All the skills qualifications (letters after name)

and a certain amount of Experience

and the clinicher, able to sign the back of someones passport photo, you can never find a pro when you need one Laughing
watersoul
slashnburn99 wrote:
All the skills qualifications (letters after name)

and a certain amount of Experience

and the clinicher, able to sign the back of someones passport photo, you can never find a pro when you need one Laughing


I was able to (and did) do that way back as an 18 yr old in the early days of my years in the civil service - even a lowly administrative assistant can do that - it simply proves good character and passing security checks, not professionalism Wink
iman
I think the ideal professional is someone who gets paid for doing and loving his job.
And someone whose professional life is separated from his personal life.
agbor
Being a professional in your job is the best thing that can happen to any human... i have seen it, practice it and studied it. if you are a professional you are a hot cake , you will surely have hands meet... the professionals are always the tearchers and tearchers never lack. think about being aprofessional.
watersoul
agbor wrote:
Being a professional in your job is the best thing that can happen to any human


I personally would disagree there, making as much money as I can for as little effort, whilst carrying out all my contractual agreements in full is the best thing for me, as it allows me to concentrate on what is ultimately most important - my personal and family life.
debjitbiswas
To be loyal and give the best and obviously be honest with your work.
iman
you're a professional if you love your job, and if you do it properly.

Also, I think that the concept that separates the "professional" side of the person from his "personal" side is only applicable to those who work halfheartedly.

Those who mix both sides are called artists.
LittleBlackKitten
A "professional" is in name alone someone who acts the part. It is also referring to a skill level that an amateur or intermediate does not hold. Some call me a professional photographer, but I tend to disagree; I do not know nearly enough about f-stops and apertures to be called a professional, but I would probably qualify as intermediate.

In my education, (I had to take a small class on professionalism) is, besides a skill level, a manner of conducting oneself. A professional is well groomed, never negative or teasing, does not argue, confront, or correct in a manner that becomes offensive; they are gentle and informative as well as knowledgeable. Personal problems remain at home, as does pain, stress, worries, family issues, health issues, and anger. Professionals know how to identify and communicate to different personality types effectively to appeal to their ego and interpersonal relationship types, to sell the product, goal, or idea. Professionals understand how to be a good co-worker, sacrificing personal time and need to complete duties, and not overloading oneself and understanding how to say "I can't" while balancing "yes I can". Professionals know how to stick to "My project will take me one week" when it is true, while not claiming it will, when it would only take a day. They know how to plan and organize time and book themselves properly, while allowing "overflow time" just in case.
rogue_skydragon
The struggle between personal and professional life is definitely something I think can be very difficult.

Acting professional can be read by some as having to censor yourself. Having to "act" professional also can be read as having to be deceptive or illusive, just as an actor/actress does in order to sustain a story or an illusion.

Having to act professional in order to fulfill societal frameworks and agendas, to me, is a bit two-faced. To be genuinely professional in mind, mannerisms, and total being is a different story.
watersoul
rogue_skydragon wrote:
Having to act professional in order to fulfill societal frameworks and agendas, to me, is a bit two-faced. To be genuinely professional in mind, mannerisms, and total being is a different story.


Two faced? Yep, at times definitely, where's the issue with that though?
I was at a meeting on Monday, absolutely bored to my back teeth listening to everyone complain and moan about the most pointless things, or discussing the simplest of issues to a depth that (as usual) is completely unnecessary. Was I acting? Did I pretend to be interested? Do I usually present a front of myself appearing to be interested and contributing the odd useful statement? Yes, Yes, and Yes!

I only work because I'm paid money to do so, and paid well. I don't come from a background that my colleagues do, I'm from a rough estate and a poor background, everyone else is from a privileged background (and quite 'stuck-up') so apart from work I have hardly anything in common with any of them.

I'm paid to do my job and I achieve better results than anyone else in my team. I'm totally acting every day though, and to me, I'm paid to act. If being professional is something akin to what you stated above (in mind, mannerisms, and total being), then I couldn't care less really. The majority of people in my work could probably be described as that but their results in the job are inferior to what I actually achieve through my acting.
One of my senior managers secretly knows I don't really care about any of the politics or the organisation itself etc, and I do it solely for the money. He is totally happy with that as long as our clients and external agencies remain happy with the results I consistently achieve.

Oh, and before anyone wonders how I can be happy 'living a lie' or 'doing something I don't really love', well, my answer is that I earn far more than many poor souls on minimum wage in dirty horrible jobs which are far worse than my situation, and on top of that, I never actually ever want work to be my 'total being'.
Work, as I've said previously elsewhere on the forums, is just a necessary distraction from the things I want to do in life. Now, because we all have to 'pay to play', I will act out whatever the best paying employer wants me to do - and I'll do it well. Call it false if you like but I'm paid solely for results and output whilst retaining good working relationships with everyone I meet in the working day. If I have to act interested (such as forcing myself to think of new ways of working/innovative ideas etc) then of course that is what I'll do. I have a huge social circle of friends completely unconnected with work and long may that remain the case - obviously I have the occasional drink after work and attend the annual party etc, and I do enjoy the conversations of some of the people I'm with, athough I'm usually acting during these events as well because it's something expected of me and part of my job. But do I care? not at all, I only know these people because we share a similar source of income. My life is not, and never will be defined by 'my work', whatever job I do. Smile
jimmyphillips
Professionals are obligated to operate according to high and strict standards of conduct in performing their work, both in terms of proficiency and of ethics. In the formal professions (Law, Medicine, Accountancy, etc.) such standards are formally set out in the codes of their professional associations (e.g., the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association). These standards place the interests of the client or patient foremost, requiring the professional to exercise due diligence in serving those interests. Failure to do so can result in censure or loss of license to practice in the profession.

Being professional means fulfilling responsibilities and taking heat. Any employee, no matter what the job, has a contractual obligation to the employer to fulfill the requirements of his or her job description while giving the employer's interests high priority. Beyond that, working professionally generally means
holding to more formal standards of performance and ethics than you might in your personal life. Conform to professional and/or industry standards in doing your job. Do it skillfully and well. Don't pursue personal agendas at the company's expense. Work hard; play fair. Represent your employer, your fellow workers, and yourself with dignity. Give the client and employer more than their money's worth.
psychorollercoaster
All it means is that you get paid Razz

on serious note to me, a professional is anyone who shows up to work as expected, eager to do more than the bare minimum, actively engaged in not only their own work but in the work of their colleagues (both those above them in the hierarchy and below) and in the professional growth of their own library or organization and in the state of the library as an institution......A professional is someone who, regardless of job title, position, or education, conducts themselves in a manner that reflects positively on themselves, their organization, and the profession as a whole. Those are the only distinctions that should really matter when it comes to a professional hierarchy...in MHO
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