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Recently, I was speaking with a friend of mine. She told me that she sometimes gets angry at work, and let’s her temper get the best of her. I tried to explain to her that in the work environment, it is our responsibility to keep our clients happy. She then proceeded to ask me the question: What is your definition of Professionalism?
Now rather than give her a dictionary type of response, I tried to share my philosophy when it comes to professionalism. Some people live by the mantra “The customer is always right.” Though I do not entirely subscribe to that philosophy, I understand it and practice it. So long as the customer is within reason.
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This is not to say that you will not encounter difficult people, or that they are in fact, always right. However, as the professional service providers, it is our responsibility to show restraint and patience while working with the customers towards finding a fair resolution that will hopefully keep them coming back! No customers means no business, so remember that you should do all this while maintaining a smile and a very professional demeanor.
After she explained the specific situation to me, I provided the solution that I would have implemented. She stated that this was exactly what her manager said that she should have done. After spending 18 years working the trading floor in the financial sector, I have learned how to deal with all sorts of temperaments and personalities. I learned on the floor that the key is to maintain (or at least always appear) calm, while reassuring the customer that you are doing everything you can to help make them happy.
Remember, at the end of the day, human beings are very selfish. I’m not judging anyone, nor do I mean this as an insult, but this is a fact of life. People generally just care about how they feel, and if you are in a service position, you must learn how to empathize with your customers. Even when you may not agree with them, and even when they are being a bit nasty to you.
That’s the key to becoming the person that everyone goes to for help! That’s how I respond when I am asked for my definition of professionalism. What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments!