Professionalism – What does this mean?

I am a college professor, and I teach students to respect one another. This means how to work in groups; how to communicate with one another; and how to respond when emailed, texted, or phoned. But, it would never occur to me that professionals have to be taught respect too! Professionalism is just “assumed.” Shouldn’t be? Isn’t it? When working with an “educated” person, is it not taken for granted that a professional acts professional? Working with a contractor on a project, I was surprised, aghast, bewildered, and disappointed when the bad behaviors exhibited by students were displayed by this “so called” professional!

This disappoint in the relationship led me to research on “What does it mean to be a professional?” I thought I knew! First, I checked the definition. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person”; and it defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.” Next, I checked Wikipedia for the definition. “The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform their specific role within that profession. In addition, most professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct, enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations.” Wikipedia went further to state that “A high level of professionalism is expected when working with clients.”

So, I wasn’t wrong. I expected to work with a professional; however, the contractor exhibited unprofessional behavior. What recourse do I have? Okay, I wrote a bad review on Yelp! Big deal. But writing a blog on professionalism and what it means really helps in getting over the disappointment because the behavior exhibited is frankly: unacceptable!

Being a professional means the following: doing good work, doing quality work, having integrity, and being trustworthy. A professional exhibits knowledge, gets the job done, and delivers on their promises. A professional gets paid for doing specific work for a client; it isn’t a hobby. Usually, a professional focuses on doing good work over monetary gains.

I take part of the responsibility; I ignored my instincts. The contractor demonstrated from the beginning of our relationship the inability to respond within an acceptable time frame or not at all, the brash behavior of asking for more money when the work took longer than expected to complete, the lack of knowledge on knowing what to do and when, and the inability to terminate the relationship with dignity.

Professionals are held accountable for their behavior and what they say they will do. This particular contractor simply claims to be a professional. Disgraceful.

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