by Hannah Bower on August 21, 2017

Why The Word Professional Is Sucking The Life Out Of Business


In most businesses - definitely not every - creativity and individuality is being squashed out of the employees.

Why?

Because the word "professional" has been stereotyped to mean brown suit, briefcase, and no personality.

When in reality, Dictionary.com defines the word professional simply as "someone connected with a certain profession".

Meaning someone who's profession is painting murals, tattooing, or cutting grass is deemed professional.

When talking about how to interact with clients, other employees, or with a boss, we are often told to behave professionally.

I feel this is an inaccurate adjective to use simply because people will have different views and opinions of what is considered professional.

Maybe a better way to say it is "hey don't act like a moron, or jack-ass when talking to our clients."

Or "hey treat your boss with respect when you interact with him/her."

The problem with people making the word professional mean and embody a certain type of person, is that businesses try to place this upon their employees that may or may not want to wear brown suits and carry a briefcase, ultimately expecting them to be and fit a certain mold.

Obviously there is nothing wrong with people who choose to adorn such attire, but that is not everyone's go to when choosing how to express themselves outwardly.

You may think that an outward expression has nothing to do with business, you don't need it in the work place to get your work done, and people can just "express" themselves on the weekends; however, there are studies that show people who are more free to express and be themselves in a work environment will be more productive.

There are also studies that show dressing in "business attire" will improve the way you work and the way people perceive you.

That, I agree with.

Not because I think if you don't wear all black and have your own monogramed pen that you are not qualified for your job, but I agree with it because of everything I have previously stated - people's idea of professional is prejudice and judgmental.

What is wrong with someone going into a meeting wearing clothes that express who they are, even if it is not a suit?

Will their words and promises of business be any less true?

I personally care more about what someone says and the things they promise to uphold when going into a business meeting, rather than what they look like.

Wearing a suit does not cover up the fact that you're actually lazy, don't know what you are doing, and will cost me more money than I will make.

At the same time, if you come in wearing a flower crown and a hippy skirt, but I can genuinely tell that you believe in what you do, and you will work hard to bring benefit to my business through your trade, you are all the more qualified and deserving of my investment.

I'm not saying that there should not be expectations on your employees to behave a certain way when in the office and when interacting with clients, but the word professional should not be our one word go to when placing guidelines in place.

Try using words like respectful, honest, diligent, efficient, and a teachable.

Do any of those words evoke the picture of a suit and briefcase?

Find ways to let your employees express who they are, and be free to let their creativity and ideas influence the work they do for you, however that may be.

 

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Hannah Bower

Jr. Inbound Marketing Consultant, and lover of all things art related, pursuing the creative life among the world of business and Inbound Marketing.