Professionalism— a term we throw around in work and school environments without truly measuring its accuracy. Maybe we should start investigating professionalism before it is too late.
A few, mostly unrelated events have made me question whether or not standards of professionalism are the same as they once were.
- I am hearing far too many stories of educated people in professional careers yelling at one another and making silly threats. I have actually experienced some of this treatment in a job many years ago.
- In colleges, students have begun to yell at professors and throw what my mom would call “hissy fits” in the middle of class.
- People have started to wear jeans and flipflops on days when they know that they must present to a group of people in a so-called professional setting.
- Students have begun calling their professors by first name or by random terms such as “Hey you” or “Mr. Ummmmm…” and entering their offices without knocking or making an appointment. (I had a student walk in my office when the door was closed and caught me putting on deodorant once.)
- Some supervisory staff in “professional” settings blatantly ignore the input and feelings of their employees who are often experts in specific areas where decisions are being made.
- Professionals are no longer trusted to do their jobs without constant intervention and oversight.
- Very few people communicate face-to-face anymore, and many “professionals” do not have the respect for one another to be sincere and work through conflict in a civilized manner.
- Students are entering institutions of higher education under the impression that the professors are their personal employees/servants who must entertain their every whim. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “I’m paying you…”
- An excess of political correctness has made true professionalism obsolete. For example, to be professional, we must all be able to address controversy, conflict, and issues of interest from an open-minded perspective. Now, though, we cannot even mention the conflict or controversy in the first place, which inevitably leads to suppressed emotions, distress, insincerity, and mistrust.
- In many professional jobs where all employees must be equally educated and experienced, supervisors still choose to see themselves elevated to the point that they would die of embarrassment if they were seen talking to an “inferior.” Lord help you see a supervisor in Wal-Mart. He/she would duck and run to avoid you, leaving the grocery cart spinning in solitude.
I am very fortunate to have an immediate environment of supportive and respectful professionals. However, I feel for my friends who do not share that luxury.
My enumeration of signs above constitute the “slippery slope.” If professionals are not expected to act professionally, then that oxymoron will lead to a greater progression of crudeness and social constipation.
To me, professionalism is a continuous respect for those around you, no matter their status, and a consideration of ethics, emotions, and high standards. Professionalism is not dancing around sticky topics, reveling in a position of “power,” making unwarranted demands of others, or considering only our convenience and needs.
If things don’t get better, I may have to yell.