Being paid to do something doesn’t make you professional

I have to admit I do not like the term ‘professional’, I think it is a term that many people hide behind to make themselves look good, feel good or to validate themselves.

If you get paid to a job it seems that you are allowed to call yourself professional, regardless of if you are the best or worst at your job which I don’t think is fair. If someone were to come up to me and tell me that they were a professional, my reply would be “but how good are you at your job?”

I have worked in many paid and non paid positions, and I have to say I have worked with a lot of volunteers, who have acted more professional and done their job more professionally than someone people I have worked with, who have been paid to do a job.

If we are to use this nebulous term ‘professional’ we need to use it to reflect someone’s quality of work not someone’s income. A volunteer has as much right as a paid worker to be called professional, if their work and work rate reflects a professional standard.

If you are a volunteer, just because you aren’t getting paid you should still be striving to be professional and take pride in your work. Don’t let the term volunteer stop you from thinking that you can’t be better than people who get paid to do similar work. The great thing is if you can learn and do these things as a volunteer it is going to help you in your current paid work or to find new paying work, as you will be much more employable.

If you are in paid employment don’t just sit back and get comfortable because you think that this makes you a professional. Go out and earn that label, show the people that you work with and work for that you are professional in everything that you do. Never forget that there are people in non-paying jobs or out of work that would love to be in your position and do what you do, so don’t take it for granted.

Are you listening?

The older I get the more I notice that we live in a world where there are more people that want to talk than want to listen. The art of listening has been lost for many I believe, with people fighting to make sure theirs is the opinion voiced and that no one else can get a word in edge ways. Talking a lot and talking about what you want to talk about seem to be some badge of success in professional and social realms.

I am a listener and I believe without listeners this world and the people in it wont be as successful as all of them could be. I also think there is much to applaud in those people that actually think before they talk and that are able to say the right things at the right time. Quality and quantity are two very different things and if you have a lot of quantity in what you say, the quality will be lost.

We’ve all been in those meetings when people are just talking for the sake of talking, because they need to be seen to be leading the conversation or having opinions on things to justify their involvement. In meetings I think it is always important to ask the opinions of the quieter ones because normally they are the ones listening and the ones that will have interesting insight in to the issues at hand.

We’ve all been at those parties and social gatherings where people are trying to dominate conversations to try and be the ‘cool’ one, trying to show off or just trying to make sure they get to talk about what they want to talk about. Sadly I think its these people that struggle to notice when people aren’t listening, so they might as well be talking to a brick wall. In many cases the more you talk the more people around you are switching off.

Some people think that by talking a lot you can hide an inadequacy, a lack of knowledge and that it impresses. I personally think it just highlights these things and doesn’t impress.

So remember, just by talking it doesn’t mean people are listening. Communication is a two way street, the more you show that you can listen the more people will want to listen to you. The art of talking should be about people listening. Don’t forget its not just about the words coming out of your lips its about your relationship with the people you are talking to and how they perceive you. I would work on these things first before opening my mouth to speak as if you do, the words coming out of your mouth are going to mean so much more.

Ask yourself this question – did you learn more by listening or by talking today? To improve as a person I always think it is more important to learn about more things than you could ever get round to talking about in your lifetime.