Professional Courtesies

We all have our own special skills, interests, and approaches in our work attitude and leadership style. My generational perspective and geographical graciousness are different from many of my colleagues. For better or worse, I do my best to embrace my authentic self and shift to adjust to the organizational culture in which I find myself operating in any given the situation. Happy to stand out, blend in, and support at the level needed or desired. But I really strive to stay connected to and practice professional courtesy.

If this is the first time you are ever hearing this term, allow me to share a global definition of how this expression can and should be a larger focal point of everyone’s organizational culture.

Professional courtesy is the basic etiquette extended between and among members of the same organization.  I use this term to convey how I communicate with others, share ideas, thoughts, and concerns with my colleagues, and how I approach building and sustaining my workships (TM) within my workplace.

Workships (TM) is a term I created many years ago, and it represents those special working relationships that have converted over into friendship. I believe that such factors as individual and team performances, talent retention, and morale are firmly grounded in the number of workships (TM) we all maintain, and the beneficial nature they provide in both personal and professional development.

Full disclosure- I am an early Gen X’er and a Texan so that one sentence reveals that I am about connecting to and with others while striving for happiness and chasing a healthy work-life balance routine.  Factor into my leadership approach that I was born and raised in by Texans, and those values of strong work ethic, deep loyalty to others, steadfast in honesty, and highly allergic to BS and liars. Well, you get the picture….Couple those elements with my family unit, and the characteristics of commitment, honor, and strong principles, all contribute to my personal and professional foundation. And as an added bonus, I have a wicked sense of humor that has also served me exceptionally well in my life survival.

As I often say, you can’t separate the person from the professional as you bring both to the office every single day. So, it’s probably not surprising that I am a huge proponent for operating with an approach of professional courtesy with all that context. But I am also a bit of a stickler that others invest with some of this approach to truly work at an optimal level. It’s an easier means of extending the courtesy rather than the alternative of trying to heal a relationship. Given the time and energy to commit to building and supporting relationships rather than insulting folks and possibly making them angry. It’s so much more challenging to solve the emotional gaffes rather than many of the already challenging business missteps. Trust me.

So why is this important, and why should I care? Many want more out of their day-to-day lives than data, processes, and putting in time at work. Some want to create a legacy, make a difference, and leave an impression. Whether you realize it or not, you do that with every action you make and take in your workspace. It’s up to you in how you create and shape that perspective. 

How do you test your compatibility with being professionally courteous? Let’s consider the following and how you answer? Do you put people on blast in meetings (either online, email, or face to face)? Do you confront people within a group?  Do you give someone a heads up that you are changing a plan, shifting something without their knowledge, or basically operating behind their back? And one of my least favorites is being on the receiving end of having someone hired away from your team but the hiring manager never told you about despite amble time and opportunity. Quite simply, its other leaders poaching from your team.  All of these indicate a level of inattention to simply being professional courteous.

On the contrary, if you want more out of your professional experience than time served, try making a few adjustments to start developing your approach and enhancing your reputation as a leader and respected colleague. It is possible to be strong, effective, and considerate.

For example:

*If you find yourself being mindful about complimenting colleagues in public and coaching in private- good for you! You are demonstrating professional courtesies. 

*If you care about how your colleague would feel to be criticized in public rather than a private conversation about a matter, another great application of professional courtesies.  

*Spending more time listening rather than espousing your only accepted perspective. In that case, you are showing others that you care about their expertise and being mindful of their contributions.

*If you choose to back-channel issues rather than throw someone under the bus at a team meeting- Wow! Great leadership call on your part.

All of these examples are quality professional courtesy choices! You have considered the other individuals and their feelings while making a leadership choice to do it differently.

While I could certainly generate a laundry list of other approaches that support being more professional courteous, as well as examples of less than considerate, I am choosing to take the high road and find the positives to consider in order to move ahead. If you want to chat more, reach out, let’s connect and create more kindness in our workspace. We are all in this together and can make it even more pleasant by just being kind and considerate to each other as much as possible. It starts with risking personal and professional vulnerability in order to start a transformation benefitting the majority.

Shana Garrett is a Counselor, Educator, and Pure Heart Leader President and CEO. She brings over thirty years of program development, management, and transformation to the diverse world of proprietary education as well as over eight years of experience as a paralegal. More about me »

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