Today I am reminded of the importance of professionalism in every aspect of our lives.
There will be times when we are confused, or we have concerns or questions, especially in our professional lives.
There's so much going on around us that we are not intimately involved with, it's sometimes hard to understand all the moving pieces.
Or maybe we have done things a different way in the past and wonder why it's not being done the same way here and now.
It's possible these concerns can hinder our performance, so we should address them. They are real concerns and we have that right.
But how do we do it correctly? There are appropriate ways to address concerns in a professional setting, and some not so appropriate ways too.
Although it's tempting for some to grandstand instead of dealing with concerns privately, we must remember to take the high road.
Always take the high road.
It's easy to get caught up in the defensive actions of publicizing your concerns, but it's not the appropriate way to go. Not unless you are dealing with a life threatening concern or a situation where harassment may be occurring. And even then, there is an appropriate and professional way to report your concerns and it does not include group settings.
Here are some suggestions for how to handle concerns professionally and correctly:
- Remember, it's not about you. The world really doesn't revolve around you. I know, it's a hard pill to swallow, but it' true. And especially not in this situation. Your concerns are real, but don't make this about you. Handle this appropriately, professionally, privately.
- Keep it private. Except for very unique situations, your concerns should be presented directly to the person responsible or your direct supervisor. They should not be aired in the lunch room, over a group email, or after work at the bar. Stay professional!
- Timing is everything. Your concerns are real, and you want answers, but your timing will make a difference in how they are handled. Consider the appropriate time, place and audience for you to air your concerns. Doing this will keep the conversation open and positive and within appropriate audiences.
- Choose the correct communication tool. Nine times out of ten, the correct tool will be your voice, which means you will have a personal conversation with the appropriate person. Group settings are not conducive to this type of conversation and group emails are at the very, very bottom of the no-no list. Stay classy!
- Be clear and concise, but accurate. Present your concerns clearly, and make certain you have as much information as possible. Don't present an assumption from hearsay, or from a past experience, or from your own need to take some action. Be as transparent as you want the person you are talking with to be, and be prepared for answers that might be different than your "norm". There are many correct ways to do just about anything.
- Be prepared to take action. You should know before the conversation even happens, what your next step will be (the reality is, we almost always do). You may need to make a hard decision based on the response you receive. You may not. Either way, be prepared.
- Be part of the solution. If the response isn't what you hoped for, don't walk away in a funk. Stick around. If change is needed, be there to help. It doesn't do anyone any good if we bring up concerns and then scurry off in a huff. This is a no drama zone.
- And finally, don't judge. You have concerns, that's fair. But you don't know the answers until you ask, so don't pre-judge. Ask yourself again, is this concern about NOW or is it related to something I experienced in the past? Ask yourself, am I simply out of my comfort zone?
Life is too short to burn bridges. We all need to stand up for what's right, to express our concerns PROFESSIONALLY, and to make decisions.
But we can't make it about us, because it isn't. We can't grandstand and expect to not be seen as doing so.
Leave the drama at home. As my daughter says, " We ain't got no time for that."
But we each have the right to ask questions, to seek clarification, and then to take the action we choose following the conversation. Everyone has that right.
Professionalism is one of those things that really matters.
Don't ever underestimate the power of your word and your professional demeanor and behavior. When on point, they are powerful!
Jean Krisle is the Founder & Executive Director of 10,000 Beds, Inc, a national 501c3 non-profit organization connecting individuals battling a substance use disorder with vetted addiction/recovery programs through treatment scholarships. A nationally certified recovery coach, life coach and motivational keynote speaker, Jean helps organizations and individuals discover, develop and cultivate powerful leaders, goal-driven teams, and mindful individuals.