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- Define "professionalism."
- Define the term “ethics” and recall several modern ethical lapses in organizations.
- Understand the importance of respecting one’s coworkers.
- Explain the concept of personal responsibility in the workplace.
- Demonstrate the ERROR method.
Professionalism is one of the most important of the Eight Career Readiness Competencies. Yet a 2019 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that while almost 95% of employers surveyed considered Professionalism to be an essential competency, only 44.2%--fewer than half—found college graduates proficient in this area. (NACE 2019). Clearly, there is room for improvement; yet improvement can begin only after a clear understanding of what professionalism is. In examining professionalism, we will explore a definition of professionalism and three important components: ethics, respect for others, and taking personal responsibility.
- We saw aviation police officers drag a bloodied pulmonologist off a plane when he wouldn’t give up his seat on United Airlines.
- We saw the beginnings of the #MeToo movement in October 2017 after Alyssa Milano used the hashtag in response to actor Ashley Judd accusing media mogul Harvey Weinstein of serious sexual misconduct in an article in The New York Times. Since that critical moment, many victims of sexual violence have raised their voices to take on some in our society who had gotten away with these behaviors for decades.
- Facebook (among others) was found to have accepted advertisements indirectly paid for by the Kremlin that influenced the 2016 election. The paid advertisements constituted a type of cyber warfare.
- Equifax had a data breach that affected 145 million people (mostly U.S. citizens as well as some British and Canadian customers) and didn’t publicly disclose this for two months.
- The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, committed many ethical lapses during his tenure with the agency prompting his resignation. Some of the ethical lapses included ordering raises for two aides even when the White House rejected them, spending $3.5 million (twice times as much as his predecessor) on his own taxpayer-funded security, using that security to pick up his favorite moisturizing lotion and dry-cleaning, renting a room for $50 a night from a lobbyist who had dealings with the EPA, installing a $43,000 private phone booth in his office that allegedly was used once, spending $124,000 on first-class flights, purchasing two season-ticket seats at a University of Kentucky basketball game from a billionaire coal executive, attempting to use his position to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise, and others.
Respect for Others
- Be courteous, polite, and kind to everyone.
- Use confirming communication behaviors that were discussed in the chapter on Interpersonal Communication.
- Do not criticize little or inconsequential things.
- Do not engage in patronizing or demeaning behaviors.
- Do not play with your cell phone, answer phone calls, etc., when others are speaking to you.
- Don’t engage in physically hostile body language. Make sure your facial expressions are appropriate and not aggressive.
- Don’t roll your eyes when others are talking.
- Don’t use an aggressive tone of voice when talking with coworkers, instructors, or classmates.
- Encourage others to express opinions and ideas.
- Encourage others to demonstrate respect for one another.
- Listen to others with an open mind.
- Listen without cutting them others off or speaking over them.
- Make sure you treat all of your coworkers fairly and equally.
- Never engage in verbally aggressive behavior: insults, name-calling, spreading rumors, disparaging, and putting people or their ideas down.
- Compliment others more often than you criticize them. Point out when they’re doing things well, not just when they’re doing “wrong” things.
- If you are leading a meeting or team, provide an equal opportunity for all to provide insight and input during meetings.
- Treat people the same regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.
- When expressing judgment or criticism, focus on specific ideas or behavior, and not the person.
- As we discussed in the chapter on Verbal Communication, replace biased language with inclusive terms.
- Acknowledge that you are responsible for your choices.
- Acknowledge that you are responsible for how you feel.
- Acknowledge that you are responsible for your behaviors.
- Accept that your choices are yours alone, so you can’t blame someone else for them.
- Decide to invest in your self-improvement.
- Decide to take control of your attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors.
- Decide on specific professional goals and make an effort and commitment to accomplish those goals.
We have discussed the meaning of professionalism and three important components of professionalism: ethics, respect for others, and personal responsibility.
- What lapses in ethical judgment would you add to the list of unethical examples provided in this unit?
- Look at the list of respectful behaviors for workplace interactions. Is anything missing from the list? How would you react if others violated these respectful behaviors towards you as a coworker? Have you ever been disrespectful in your communication toward coworkers? Why?
- Why do you think it’s essential to take personal responsibility and avoid excusing making in the workplace? Have you ever found yourself making excuses? Why?
- Practice using the ERROR method with a classmate.