An Air of Professionalism in Your Profession

by Daniel A. Seda MPA ‘2012

Individuals who choose to work in a professional capacity have the obligation to provide an air of professionalism that would likely foster a quality relationship with their customers and the hope of repeat business.  However, it has become increasingly acceptable in this big, bad city to consider a job a means of survival and little else.  Collecting a paycheck has often meant selling one’s soul in order to live another day.  Employees have been authorized to check their humanity at the door only to sneak a ton of baggage in their purses and briefcases.  Trekking to and from work in cramped subway cars and in traffic on the GW is the only cardiovascular workout we can afford these days and hardly an exercise in compassion.  Apathetic bosses would rather not know you exist as to avoid personality conflicts and harassment lawsuits.  Still, as a consumer of goods and services I’d just like to know, “Where does she keep all that attitude?”

Has someone slipped bitterness into the water cooler again?  Is there some detox tea this guy can take to get rid of his contempt for humanity or is it just an incurable genetic defect?  Did my suggestion of a morning yoga class ruffle his bureaucratic feathers?  Perhaps, an afternoon stroll would improve her mood long enough to answer a telephone with a greeting other than, “Yeeeuh, whuddah you want!?!”

Some say, “It’s just the way it is.  New Yorkers are just too busy to be polite!”  Au contraire, mon cheri.  I may be the eternal optimist, but there are rules of engagement that supersede your complaints about the MTA.  There ain’t nothing different about handling yourself professionally in this city than in any other city in America.  The only difference is the accents!

Now granted I grew up in the South and officially moved to New York in 2004, but I’ve always been a Yankee no matter how you sliced it.  I drove fast, played hard, and always made sure to eat my pizza folded in half.  But, I promised myself a long time ago that I would never, under any circumstances, allow New York to change how I treat people especially at work.  Yes, things are faster here.  Things are harder, and I still eat my pizza the same way, but if I’ve got a job to do, you better know I’m gonna give you a, “Yes, Ma’am” or “Yes, Sir!”  It’s just how I would want to be treated if I were in your shoes.

So, can we all take a minute today and ask ourselves if we’re happy with our lives.  If the answer is “No,” then for Pete’s sake change something about it!  Go put on a sexy pair of skivvies underneath that pencil skirt you wear to the office.  Put on a Superwoman t-shirt underneath that pink cardigan you got at Daffy’s.  Go ahead and wear those cufflinks your mom gave you for your first job interview?  Splash on a little Aqua Velva because it reminds you of the good old days when Dad taught you how to be respectable, young man.

Do something that makes you remember what life is really about so you can take on another day without having to sell your soul in the meantime.  It will make all the difference not only to you, but also to the customers you serve.  Who knows, it might even make your Mom teary-eyed to know you still carry around those old cufflinks in your top drawer, and just might make your Dad smile to know that all his hard work was worth it?

6 Responses to “An Air of Professionalism in Your Profession”
  1. Brian says:

    A breath of fresh air in this always-moving city. I will carry this with me today (and hopefully tomorrow and the next day).

  2. Great post, Dan. Your reminders are spot-on. I think that the recent economy scared people tremendously and they forgot that they can get joy from their professional life. Small pick me ups great, and if they need the change, they should start looking at ways to do it. Even when things are hard, NYC is still the land of opportunity!

  3. Mike Seda says:

    Excellent post Dan! Your post should make everyone reflect on current and past career courses of action.
    I grew up in NYC, worked on Wall Street, commuted 4 hours everyday on rail and buses for years and one day, after a long talk with my best friend (wife), decided to take a big paycut and try teaching. I’m currently a College Professor who loves to teach and help students achieve their dreams through mutual respect and hard work. Teaching allowed me to balance my need for a healthier balance in life. My only regret in life is that it took me ten years to get my doctorate which took its toll on my family however I’m very proud of how my three wonderful sons turned out.

  4. Anthea Neri says:

    Daniel, its always a pleasure to read your writing!!!! Throughly enjoying!!!

    • Rachel Citron says:

      Daniel, love you always! I so appreciate that you advise to find the joy in the jobs that we have rather than saying to go out there and find something we love. In these economic times, having something we love versus something that pays the bills is perhaps a privilege that not all of us can afford. For right now, I am going to take your advice and find things about work to love until the time comes that I can find soul in my work again. Thank you for your article!

  5. Stella Chan says:

    Right on Dan. Good work! Parisians should learn from you, so I’ll share this with my Parisian friends and colleagues! Thank you!

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