A continuing challenge for today’s employees is the effort to strike a balance between professionalism and warmth/friendliness at the workplace.
The goal? Be friendly enough to be an approachable, desired member of the team and yet professional enough to be an effective, respected part of the team.
Who will notice if you fail to arrive at the middle ground between professionalism and friendliness? Umm, everyone. Folks on both sides of the equation, meaning boss and co-workers as well as customers and industry peers.
Let’s take a peek at each of these tenets individually beginning with “friendly”.
Nothing exudes friendliness better than a warm smile and a pleasant disposition. Even better? A smile that “reaches the eyes”. Working relationships get a natural boost when all involved possess a positive attitude and a cheerful demeanor. People whose personality bends toward the other side of the spectrum simply have to put more effort into being pleasant.
Genuinely friendly people are easy to detect. They are interested in others, rather than consume with power and status. It’s almost as if he/she wore a name tag proclaiming in bold, black Sharpie letters, “Friendly, Approachable, Interested. How can I help you?”
When it comes to professionalism, some think of wardrobe selection and an extensive, industry-related vocabulary. While those tenets are components of professionalism, there’s much more to it. Professionalism is born from a mixture of discretion, credibility, tact, and polish with a liberal dose of common sense thrown in for good measure. It encompasses how a person conducts himself/herself as well as a how he/she deals with others.
Knowing how to respond to a multiple array of situations is a mark of professionalism. If this is a weak area for you, tap into available resources for growth and remember, concentrated effort can certainly bring about improvement. Mentoring and accountability by a colleague or peer can be especially helpful.
Here are few do’s and don’ts to get you started.
DO foster relationships
“It’s much easier to work with folks if you get along,” says Lisa O’Neill, a public relations account executive at Trinity Communications in Boston. Make an effort to find common ground and put aside personal differences for the sake of the working relationship.
A get-the-job-done attitude may earn you the coveted “professional” label. But if you ignore everyone in the office, forego lunch and break time socializing, and then head out at the end of the day without a word to your co-workers, “friendly” will not be a descriptor attached to your name.
DO engage yourself in the job
Get with the program. Bring your A game. Jump in with both feet. Whatever phrase gets you motivated, use it. If you appear disinterested in the position, less than excited to be there or worse yet, a slacker, you won’t be perceived as either professional or friendly.
Get and keep up to speed with the department happenings and the overall business. Not only will this awareness assist you in the area of job performance, but you will also be recognized as a resource and gain the respect of your colleagues.
DO dress appropriately
Most jobs come with at least a basic dress code while others have very specific wardrobe requirements. Pushing the envelope to see what you can get away with simply because you dislike the established parameters creates awkwardness amongst colleagues. On your own time away from the workplace, the choices are yours. When you’re on the clock or at a company function, show professionalism by adhering to the dress code.
Grooming habits count too. If it looks like you slept in it, choose something else. While the stubble-faced look may be “in”, company leadership may frown on this trend. But shower-fresh, with clean hair and nails, never goes out of style.
DON’T get caught up in office politics or gossip
It’s unfortunate but almost every workplace has its share of drama and/or politicking. Turn a deaf ear to gossip and refuse to be part of it – neither spreading it nor basing decisions on anything less than documented information.
Want to climb the corporate ladder? Focus on giving 110% to the job and don’t worry about the other guy edging you out. If you strive to be professional and incorporate steps 1, 2, and 3, you’ll get noticed for the right reasons.
DON’T be needy or clingy or foster relationships that are
“But I want everyone to like me best.” If this is your mantra, it will be quite an extraordinary battle to maintain professionalism. This isn’t the playground. You and each of your co-workers are here to do a job. There’s nothing wrong with, nor is it uncommon, for people who work together to become friends. But during work hours, the friendship has to take a backseat to the work relationship and the job.
BLoehr Staffing wants to be your career partner. Whatever your professional goals, B. Loehr can offer you a career that fits your unique situation, enhancing your ability to be professional and friendly, with the freedom and flexibility your lifestyle demands. Contact our team of employment specialists today.