In honor of April as Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, I think it is important to discuss ways to avoid workplace conflict in the first place.
Of course, sometimes conflict is inevitable. Stuff happens. But there are ways to minimize the likelihood of conflicts. If workers take responsibility to act professionally, conflicts are much less likely.
So, what does it mean to be a professional? How do you act like a professional if you’ve never had a professional experience? Or how do you determine what it means to be a professional in a new career field or industry? Here are 8 tips to consider as you move into the workforce, whether you are soon graduating and looking for full-time work, taking on a part-time or full-time job while you finish school, or starting an internship. Professionalism is central in order to make a positive impression on your co-workers and supervisors. Then, those people will become a helpful part of your network as your progress in your career.
Professional Tip 1: Be enthusiastic and passionate about the work.
No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t care about what they do. One way to show respect for your co-workers is through the interest and excitement you bring to the work that goes on in the industry.
Professional Tip 2: Keep learning and wanting to learn from others and on your own.
You will be seen as a professional if you exhibit the qualities of a lifelong learner, if you keeping developing yourself, and if you truly want to learn from all those around you. A little initiative goes a long way toward professionalism.
Professional Tip 3: Be humble.
Although you needed to exhibit your confidence to get the job and maintain that confidence to become a vital and engaged part of the team, stay in touch with your humility. Understand everyone starts somewhere, and we all have a long way to go.
Professional Tip 4: Be an agent for change.
Fresh ideas and creative solutions to problems are welcome in the professional world. Don’t complain when something isn’t working, offer a potential way to fix it. Your co-workers will thank you!
Professional Tip 5: Help others.
Does the office fridge need cleaning? Does the printer cartridge need to be changed? Then do it! Small acts of kindness show a sense of responsibility for the workplace as a shared venture. Everyone wants to feel like all members are pulling their weight.
Professional Tip 6: Be flexible.
Change happens; it’s inevitable. So roll with it! Your co-workers and supervisors will appreciate your adaptability to new conditions.
Professional Tip 7: Show up on time and work really hard!
People will be impressed with your professionalism if you take your work seriously, focus only on work related activities in the workplace (no personal distractions), and arrive early and stay late. This doesn’t mean become a workaholic; it’s important to maintain balance with your work and your home life, but devote the time needed to do your job really well. If that means coming in a half hour early to prepare for a meeting or working one evening to get a project done on a deadline, do it.
Professional Tip 8: Be honest.
Finally, when you are having any kind of workplace difficulty with a co-worker or a supervisor, the most professional way to deal with the situation is to respectfully tell them. If you need to, go through the proper channels – talking to a mentor or supervisor when you’re unsure how to handle the situation. Professional people are honest and transparent while being respectful.
As you move into professional positions and work to grow as a professional, these tips will help you avoid workplace conflict and, when conflict arises, handle it constructively. Although these tips sound simple, they are difficult to do every day, and workers who are consistently professional stand out. If we all want a little more peace in the working world this month, it would be a good idea to remind ourselves how to be a professional.