Updated: Apr 15
As seen in APeeling - October 2019
Crafting a professional image takes a focused effort and dedication to ensure a consistent story is being told to those around you in the form of a personal brand. In today’s digital world your personal brand story must reflect your professionalism because whether we receive a promotion or a pink slip can be contingent on how leadership perceives our behaviour, image, and the quality of our work, all of which, define our professional image.
Unemotional but Not too Unemotional
Behaviours based on our feelings will have an impact on our success because how we interact with others is vital to how those who hold the power to hire, fire, and promote will perceive our value over the longterm.
Professionals walk a fine line between showing their personality and keeping their emotions in check. They do this by embracing their positive emotions and dealing with negative emotions appropriately. When someone asks a professional, “How are the kids?” They will share just enough information to create connection with the person, but not too much information. They mention the positive things and keep the rest private.
“They [professionals] exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence (EI) by considering the emotions and needs of others, and they don’t let a bad day impact how they interact with colleagues or clients.”
This means to behave in a professional manner you must leave your problems in the car, no matter how upset you are about your dog being sick, the kids making bad choices, and your marriage being on the rocks. In a world of 24/7 connectivity how does one remain professional at work when their personal problems keep showing up on their phones?
The easy answer is to leave the phone in the glove compartment of the car. The realistic answer is only check personal texts after work when it is safe for you to have an emotional tornado rip through your life.
Are Things Changing?
As much as we would like to believe the world is becoming a more caring place where employers care about the personal well being of their employees, this is a facade because we are human.
Employers want to know the people on their payroll are stable, productive, and consistent. The more information they have about your wreck of a personal life, the less confidence they will have about your longterm ability to focus on your tasks and not disrupt the workplace.
“Leave your bad mood at the door when you come to work. We all have days when we aren’t feeling our best. Remember not to take it out on your boss, your co-workers”
On the other side of the coin, we can be having a great day where everything is going right and we get overly excited, this can cause disruption and shows a level of immaturity. When you land a huge account it can be tempting to do a happy dance in the bull pen while giving high fives all around, however you are disrupting other people from getting their work done. Just like there is a time to deal with personal issues, there are times to celebrate wins.
Thinking you have to be a robot at work is a knee jerk reaction to learning you need to be appropriate in your expression of emotion. Show your co-workers your personality, embrace your positive emotions and the energy they bring you. Being appropriate in how you express your emotions means practicing temperance and courtesy. Do not react when others exhibit bad behaviours, refrain from saying unkind things, and be mindful of how much of yourself you share at work.
“Your demeanor should exude confidence but not cockiness. Be polite and well-spoken whether you’re interacting with customers, superiors or co-workers. You need to keep your calm, even during tense situations. Your body language and facial expressions communicate volumes, so be sure they are conveying the message you want others to hear.”
The key is to bring your best self to work every day and leave the worst of you in the car. If you get upset, angry, or overly excited, leave the office and go for a walk to deal with these emotions on your own. Then when you return to the office you can deal with the situation appropriately.
If you want to be seen as a professional whom people can relate to and like, try asking questions and listening to your co-workers. Find out about their lives, thoughts, and work instead of trying to make connections by talking about yourself. The people who make the biggest impression on others are the ones who care to listen and remain emotionally consistent. You want to be someone people feel they can go to no matter what happens.
Professionals work on their appearance as much as they do their skill set. They will always ensure they are well groomed and do not come to work without looking their best. This means taking care of their health and the details which make up their appearance. By taking care of the details they can look calm, poised, and confident even though inside they are an emotional mess.
The person who arrives into the office in a wrinkled suit and their hair in need of a comb, causes those around them to feel disorganized, stressed, and emotionally unstable.
“Whether you have to dress up for work or you can wear more casual clothes, your appearance should always be neat and clean. A wrinkled suit looks no better than a ripped pair of jeans does.”
It isn’t so much about what you wear as it is about being consistently well kept. Are your clothes clean? Taking the time each week to make sure your clothes don’t have rips, stains, and the odd smell will make looking your best easier.
Your health will be reflected in your image, so take care of yourself inside and out. Eat healthy, go to the gym, take a walk, drink plenty of water, and go to the doctor for regular check ups. You will feel better, clothes will look better on you, your skin will glow, and people will take notice.
If you want to make it to the next level in your corporation, look to see what the people in those roles look like and emulate them. If you want to be the best on your team, analyze the image of those who are consistently hitting the top numbers, getting the best projects, and have the most respect. Sure some people are born with natural good looks and grace is effortless to them. However, this isn’t about being the best looking person in the room, it’s about being the best you, you can be. It’s about showing up prepared, ready to work, and emotionally stable so others feel they can always count on you.
“Professionals look the part – they don’t show up to work sloppily dressed, with unkempt hair. They’re polished, and they dress appropriately for the situation. Because of this, they exude an air of confidence, and they gain respect for this.”
When you are feeling tired, negative, and upset the last thing you may want to do is take care of your appearance, however, when you do you will discover you feel better about life and yourself. Take a few extra minutes, it will make a difference.
Professionals are experts at what they do which means they are always practicing their skills and expanding their knowledge to get better than they already are. It isn’t about being the best because there is always someone who will know something you don’t, what it means is doing the best you can do all the time.
When you are prepared for any situation you will find it easier to always stay calm and consistent. This is why first responders practice their skills on a regular basis because they need to know they can handle anything coming at them during high stress situations. By practicing and knowing the answers to questions clients ask and solutions to any problems which arise, you will be more confident, less stressed, and more composed. Your emotional well-being will improve and you will be seen as a positive addition to any team.
“Professionals strive to become experts in their field, which sets them apart from the rest of the pack. This can mean continuing your education by taking courses, attending seminars and attaining any related professional designations. A broad set of skills, from mastering software to clearing jams from the copying machine, adds to the sense that you’re an indispensable member of the team.”
Utilize the experts around you at work to help you improve by asking them for advice. The connections you make by doing this, will aid you in the future. Ask co-workers about books they read, which courses are the best to take, and where they go to find the latest news in your industry. It doesn’t take much time in your week to learn something new and improve yourself, you only need to make it a priority.
List of Professional Characteristics:
1. Stay calm and positive
2. Leave problems in the car
3. Don’t complain and whine
4. Stay composed at all times
5. Dress appropriately
6. Be well groomed
7. Be confident
8. Be on time
9. Be reliable
10. Don’t lie
11. Don’t gossip
12. Help others
13. Be ethical
14. Be an expert
15. Do what you say
16. Continually learn
17. Don’t blame others
18. Do the best job you can
19. Stay focused on the task
20. Build your personal brand
Keeping emotions in check and appropriate is a learned skill which takes time to perfect, keep trying.
Shannon Peel helps brands and people look their best online and off.