What makes you able to call yourself a professional? My thoughts…

I define it this: You are a professional if/when you do your job no matter what the personal or professional circumstances.

Is your company going through a massive layoff? Do you have a personal issue with one of your coworkers or your boss? Is the client/customer you are dealing with a complete jerk? A professional rises above those issues and delivers time and again. Now, obviously, no one's perfect… but a pro consistently executes even if the circumstances have "gotten to" him or her.

Personal anecdote time: I found out at one point in my career that the person who was working for me, a junior designer, was making more take-home pay than I was. I was incredibly upset about it, and I was ready to storm into HR's office and threaten to quit. That was the emotional reaction… but it wasn't the professional reaction.

Instead of screaming and throwing things, I spoke to my manager about it, expressed my frustration with the situation (and NOT with the person who hired him to work on my team)… and then followed up with a direct e-mail. The hiring manager who hired the designer called me and profusely apologized, promising to raise my salary to the appropriate level for my experience)

I didn't "take it out" on my direct report, because he was a good negotiator and cut himself a good deal when he was hired – I would have done the same. And because I didn't yell, my professional reputation maintained intact. Even when management didn't follow through on their promises to correct my salary, I maintained professional and did the professional thing… I found another job.

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Joseph Dickerson

Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.