Professionalism in the Work Place Goes Both Ways

Professionalism is defined as “the standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur,” according to It’s a trait that you want to possess if you want to portray yourself in a light that other people will respect. There is one place that professionalism should never be lacking: the workplace. From the early stages of the application process to actually getting the job and working at the location, professionalism is key, because no chief people officer is going to hire someone who seems to be lacking in ability to do the job.

Professionalism applies to all types of jobs: from big corporate businesses to minimum wage jobs at the local fast food restaurant. No job is too low for professionalism. However, despite popular belief, professionalism applies to both the employees and the customers. Unfortunately, I have encountered both groups that lack the necessary attitudes in the work place.

As a customer, when I walk into a business of some type, whether it is a restaurant, a store, or an office, I expect to be treated with respect if I walk in with the intention of treating the employees with the same respect. I do not appreciate an attitude when I ask for assistance for something, especially when I do not understand how something works or if I cannot find what I am looking for. I also do not appreciate workers being on cell phones when I am trying to ask for assistance or place an order. Nothing says rude more than asking me “May I take your order?” and then cutting me off to take a phone call on a personal cell phone. Yes, this has happened, multiple times in fact. Additionally, I don’t appreciate waiting for ten minutes to place an order because employees need to finish up a very “important” conversation right in front of me before someone decides it is convenient to do his or her job.

With all of that ranting aside, I would like to point out that customers also abuse their right to being treated with respect, often throwing professionalism out the window when dealing with employees. Just as employees can give attitudes to customers, many customers also enter a situation negatively from the beginning, believing that the employees are there to help them and treating them like dirt is acceptable. I can’t tell you how annoying it is when employees, who do actually try to treat their customers well, have to deal with customers who feel entitled. Please do not be rude if you do not want to be treated rudely.

To finish off this little lecture about professionalism, I have to end with having respect for those people who do serve you in various areas. Nothing upsets me more when I see someone disrespecting an employee who they think has a menial job. Maybe some jobs aren’t as glamorous as others, but they are still jobs that those people need to have to support themselves. There is no reason to demean them about their position. The one example I can think of is when people intentionally do not clean up after themselves, because they feel like they are entitled to have someone else clean up after them. “It’s their job right?” Wrong! Yes, if it is their job to clean up a room, area, bathroom, etc. then it is their job, but as customers, do not feel it your obligation to make their job harder than it needs to be. It is disrespectful and inconsiderate, not to mention unprofessional.

All I ask is that we all respect each other in the work place, whether you are a customer or an employee and whether it is on campus or off. Everyone works hard, so please try to respect that, especially on this campus.