Ten Tips for Everyday Professionalism

Many of us take for granted what we've learned over the course of our careers. We have the benefit of experience to guide our behavior and interpretations of situations within the workplace. But for young women just entering the workforce, everyday professionalism can be a minefield of uncertainty. Below is a list we've compiled of just a few things we've picked up along the way. 

1.Wait until an email is complete before you add the recipients’ names. We’ve all been there. We’re carefully crafting an email to the higher-ups in our company, we click away to add an attachment or refer back to something, and boom. You press send without being finished. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way.

2.Write thank-you notes. Don’t stop at thank-you notes! Write letters for awards, retirements, appointments, recognitions, etc. E-mail is quicker, of course, but will likely be deleted. Hand-written notes are kept in people’s desks and homes.

3.Read the news every day. Technology makes this so easy! You don’t want to be clueless in a conversation with people who are discussing current events. There are some great e-newsletters that condense what’s going on into quick highlights. CNN’s 5 Things and theSkimm are great ones!

4.Familiarize yourself with local sports teams and how they’re doing. This point goes hand in hand with Number 4 and is especially beneficial if you’re new to an area. Sports teams are often a community unifier and appear in a great deal of small talk conversations. They are usually an easy, safe conversation starter!

5.Always take a pen and notepad to meetings. It gives a visual cue that you’re prepared and interested in what the meeting is about. Also, just because you don’t think you’ll need to take notes doesn’t mean you won’t need to jot something down. You never know when an idea will pop into your head!

6.Don’t be too proud to ask for help. We’ve worked hard to get where we are and want to maintain a “she can handle it” persona, but don’t hurt yourself by refusing to reach out when you need an extra hand or pair of eyes. Don’t feel like you’re bothering a colleague – most people are sincerely willing to help!

7.Answer emails promptly, even if it’s just to acknowledge it. How many times have we waited on an email response and said, “either way, I wish he/she would’ve just let me know!” If you receive an email from someone and can’t get to their request right away, it never hurts to let them know you got it and you’ll get back to them soon.

8.Never go over your boss’s head with a complaint. It’s important to give your supervisor the benefit of the doubt and talk to him or her first in a situation. Most of the time, there’s more behind an issue than what we can see. Also, put yourself in his or her shoes: wouldn’t you appreciate someone coming to you directly first?

9.At business dinners, when in doubt, follow the lead of your boss or the organizer. Business dinners are intimidating environments. It’s hard to know when to sit, what to order (or not!), and the direction the conversation will go. Take cues from your boss or the person who organized the dinner to avoid an unintentional misstep.

10.Don’t ever say the words, “that’s not my job.” None of us is above picking up a piece of trash in the hallway or refilling the copier paper. Certainly, it’s important to properly delegate responsibilities and ensure our workload is handled, but leaders want individuals on their team who are willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.

Poet Sonia Sanchez said, "The more I learn, the clearer my view of the world becomes." Each of us learns something every day, in every interaction, every task, every success, and every failure. While we're in the daily grind of our professional and private lives, it's important to remember the little lessons that have made all the difference for us.