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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

10 Tips for Maintaining a Professional Attitude at Work

In this post, we're going to discuss 10 tips for maintaining a professional attitude at work. Sometimes, maintaining that attitude at work is very difficult indeed. While it may be temporarily satisfying to tell someone what you really think in the heat of the moment, it is not necessarily in your best interest to do so. Throwing someone under the bus isn't professional, neither is stirring the pot, or so many other behaviors I've had the misfortune of seeing in my professional career.
10 Tips for Maintaining a Professional Attitude at Work
  1. Remember - Email, Phone Calls, Voice Mail, and Text Messages are not an synchronous form of communication and do not have to be answered immediately. I find that when things get hot, it's best to bide my time responding to the situation. Take your time, and think about how to approach the issues at hand, rather than shooting first, and aiming later.

  2. If someone asks you for an answer, ask to think it over, and let them know you will get back to them, within a specified amount of time. You're going to really convince people that you are super thoughtful, and level headed by doing this.

  3. Bite your tongue. If someone makes an outrageous comment, it may be best to let it slide, and come back to it later, when you're in a more calm frame of mind. Sometimes things are best left alone entirely. Some people like to wade in and start throwing things about all over the place, and it will splatter all over the place, figuratively and literally. Sometimes not engaging is the best course of action.

  4. There is absolutely NO place for violence in the workplace. Be careful to maintain that workplace "mask" in place. Do not swing things, or hit your hand with your pen, or otherwise demonstrate aggression physically. Make a point of leaving the situation at the earliest opportunity. Do. not. engage. Whatever you do, don't do what my former colleague did at a former employer- come into a meeting with a golf putter, and swing it around, and whack one hand with the other for the entire length of the meeting. It certainly served to intimidate, but it left a long-lasting negative impression, even though it's been over 10 years since that interaction.

  5. Be aware of your body's demands. This means, if you are about to head into a long meeting, and you have not eaten, eat a handful of protein. Avoid sugar lows. Make sure to use the restroom. Make sure you are well rested. It is much harder to react appropriately to a situation when you are tired, cranky, and otherwise irritable from easily remedied issues. Listen to what your body is saying. I try to avoid lunchtime meetings, unless I specifically know that I'll be fed, for the reason that I know I'll be super cranky.

  6. Let some things slide. In today's American Society, there can be the temptation to get HR involved in every situation, and consider lawsuits for every infraction, real or imagined. Realize that for every time you make a report to HR, you are creating a reputation for yourself. You must decide if it is worth the cost. Thus, there are some times when things should simply be allowed to slide, as they are harmless. Reporting to HR is going to give you a reputation, even if you are blameless. Save those trips, and complaints for truly significant offences.

  7. Remind yourself that many times the offense is in the mind of the person offended. It is possible and even likely that absolutely no offense was intended by the other party. Ask yourself if you think that the offense was intentional. I think that in most cases, the answer is an honest "no".

  8. Address the behavior, and not the person. What I mean by that is that you should say something like "When you do XX, this is what happens". Don't tell someone they are worthless, stupid, or anything else.

  9. Respond to your emails in 24-48 hours, and if you can't do what they're asking you to, then tell them why not, or when you'll have it done. Set expectations of why you're not going to do what they want you to do.

  10. Find a buddy you can blow off steam with. This may not be a colleague, but find someone you can relate the sheer stupidity going on to, and just blow off steam. Avoid inter-office politics like the plague, and make sure your confidante won't blow your cover.
As I'm sure you can guess, there are dozens of ways you can maintain a professional attitude at work, and stay cool, calm, and collected. Whatever you do, don't respond badly, no matter how much someone wants you to, as that will destroy your career.
Haley Gray is a business coach, and a graduate of Duke's Fuqua School of Business. She is the founder of, as well as the founder of Extension of You Home Care, and owner of Care Patrol of the Triangle. She has successfully started and run several businesses of her own, as well as coached many people through starting their own businesses. She believes in helping each entrepreneur find appropriate solutions to their problems, and that no two people are alike.

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