Being professional in the workplace can mean many different things to individuals and companies – the core values of the company often dictate how we interpret what being professional means to us as an individual.

For businesses whose core identity is built around being fun, cool and friendly, dressing in a corporate suit might make you less approachable to the business’s target market. However, if you’re a corporate law firm, your clients might not view you as professionals if your staff are wearing a branded t-shirt and jeans.

Think along the lines of: Steve Jobs at Apple; Mike Cannon-Brookes at Atlassian; Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen the British interior designer – they have famously built their own professional identity into their brand.

However, being professional extends far beyond your dress code. It encompasses your behaviour, attitude, your interactions with others, the delivery of your responsibilities. I asked the team to share what they thought being professional means; here are some of their responses:

“Clean cut, respectful and considered – this goes for clothing, behaviour, attitude. To be professional you must constantly be aware of where you are, who you’re with and the way you connect in different situations.”

“Being able to get the job done while showing respect for your team. Doing what you say you are going to do. Being authentic, reliable, and courteous.”

“Holding yourself to a high standard and continually looking for improvement in yourself and helping others to raise their standards.”

Being polite, dressed appropriately, on time. Listening and really hearing the client or the person you are working with and trying to understand their point of view.”

“Leaving your personal life at the door (within reason!) and doing your job. It’s developing your own personal brand, whatever you want it to be and being reliable for your boss and your colleagues.”

As you can see, common themes of what professional means to our team emerged: respect, reliability, ethics, being a team player, listening, and manners.

What does “professional” mean to you as an individual? What does it mean to the organisation you work for? How can you leverage professionalism to communicate better? 

Stay tuned for the next blog in our Communicate BetterTM series when we look at how you can leverage some of the 2020 marketing trends to communicate better.