Being Professional: Skill – Art – Essential

In the spirit of further examining the aspects of organizational improvement and cultural challenges, and the resulting influences associated with creating improved, viable and effective organizations, one major influence is how people treat each other. Various data collected, via surveys and interviews over the past several years, indicate that even though systems and processes were not as effective as they could be, the human interaction was a more influential factor on the success of an organization.

The effects of less than professional workplace behaviors are manifested in mounds of legislation. Resulting from the legislation is training, focused on fulfilling the letter of the law. What is missing is the daily practice and internalization of a mutual understanding and respect for one another regardless of those things that make us all different from one another.

We will focus on the workplace and offer suggestions on what can work to improve the overall human interaction. Hence this improved interaction, coupled with improved processes and systems, results in organizations positioned to meet and compete in an ever-changing and dynamic world.

The title indicates that there are two fundamental components of improving the human interaction. There is a skill piece and an art piece. I suggest there are many skilled artists, painters, writers, etc., but there are, in relative comparison, only a few who become famous, and renowned. Why is this? Perhaps it is because their “artistic side” is better developed. What makes it better? That’s the difficult question, and if we had an answer perhaps we all would be better at whatever we do. As with interpersonal skills, there are technical skills, but there is also quite a bit of art or style necessary to be truly effective at dealing with people, and being successful in the workplace.

Consider the combinations, if neither the skill nor the style is present with two or more parties then we can revisit the days of the Wild West and drawn pistols to resolve problems. Ideally, if both parties have both the skill and the style, conflicts can be avoided, resulting in professional behavior with minimization of interpersonal disruptions. With the potential for conflict minimized, (or healthy conflict) and with people able to function effectively, the result is improved performance on both individual and organizational levels.

We submit the following as key components of a leader to create such an environment:

Control of emotions and self-discipline are essential skills in being professional. The art is in the implementation. An increased awareness and desire to control emotions, as well as exhibit higher degrees of self-discipline, can become part of one’s personal and professional life style.

When building foundations of relationships honesty is absolutely essential. Experience has shown that some individuals interpret honesty differently. Unfortunately, honesty is a rather absolute thing, and being a little honest really is not being honest, it’s dishonest. With absolute honesty comes trust and a world of good things. Therefore, in the context of being professional, honesty is fundamental.

Keeping issues in a Business context
With a solid business relationship the parties understand that business and social/personal remain mutually exclusive, both relationships can succeed.

Define goals and objectives before
In every situation where the goals and objectives are not clearly identified and understood by the parties involved, whatever the endeavor, the result is typically any combination of lost revenue, destroyed business and personal relationships, family and personal stress and in most cases litigation. In contrast, when goals and objectives are clearly defined, dramatic opposite effects result.

Resolve conflicts or disagreements immediately
We are all human and despite how high our Emotional Intelligence or IQ are, or how well we define goals and objectives; conflicts and disagreements arise. When conflicts or disagreements arise, if not brought to the parties involved when they occur, the consequences are devastating. When misunderstandings and/or disagreements “fester,” the cost is significant. Lost work time, and lost effectiveness initially, and if the issue is confronted, disruption resulting from defending one’s position resulting in a significant impact on productivity and effectiveness. Finally, if the issue goes to the limit, the direct cost in terms of attorneys and mediators, etc. is also significant; resulting only in winners and losers. The winners are usually the external interveners and losers are the parties involved in the conflict. A suggested approach is one of immediacy and honesty striving for a win–win outcome.

The Golden Rule
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Translating this into the context of this article it means being courteous, respectful, and considerate; anticipating other’s needs, and making allowances for “bad days.” Enough said!

This interesting thing about all this is on a daily basis news and social media bombard us with information that we know is contrary to the above key components as well as not being professional. The interesting thing about the above article is we wrote it in 1995. The question becomes, are we really getting better? All current indications are, we are not. A bigger problem is a lowering of the professional bar is becoming a new reality and as a society we need to be setting better examples, not manifesting those behaviors that continue to lower the bar. This places unusual challenges on parents, managers, and leaders. Perhaps we might consider better defining our sphere of influence and place our focus for change to a sphere we have influence over. Make small changes, make them close to you and be consistent with your approach. Teach those within your sphere so the positive influence will multiply and spread. Learn new interpersonal skills and practice the artistic aspect – refine your style. Good Luck!

We are a select group of experienced professionals who have held a variety of positions in the business.

We have seen it all, and at this stage in our careers, we feel we can bring this depth of experience and knowledge to bear for business, industry and non-profit leaders.

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