Is it just me, or is the world of professionalism taking a decidedly non-professional turn? Several times in the past couple weeks or so, I’ve witnessed a breakdown in the level of professional courtesy. And I’m not just talking about at restaurants or in the grocery store, though some of those places have their issues with professionalism as well (remember when the customer was always right?). I’ve seen and heard people at pretty high levels of businesses or organizations treating colleagues and customers with a disturbing lack of respect.
It seems that everywhere, from local mom and pop businesses to national organizations and even professional writers’ groups, there is a dire need for education in how you treat or speak to people. Last week, I received an email about an upcoming training for a particular organization that was so snide and condescending, I had to go back and reread it, trying to see if I was taking it out of context or with a bias to the situation. Sadly, no, the problem was not a misunderstanding of the tone of the email, which can happen so easily with technology these days, but with the actual words that were used. There is no doubt that it was meant to be snide and condescending. Point taken. But did they really have to go there?
Elsewhere, I witnessed someone asking a question about a professional writing project that is in the process of being put together. The answer given, to the perfectly harmless and totally understandable question, was as kind and helpful as a slap in the face. Was that really necessary? Is it too hard to kindly answer a question that others may also be wondering? One can certainly be assertive and frank while still being tactful, can’t they?
I’m at a loss as to how to explain the shift that I see happening more and more these days. Is it social media? Loss of moral education? Fewer liberal arts colleges which typically require classes in ethics? Too many exhausted parents who just don’t have the time or the desire to teach politeness? Politicians, athletes, and other celebrities who are rude and crass and don’t stop to think or even care that they are role models? Is it just that we’ve become so self-centered as a people that we really don’t care anymore how we treat others?
I recently came across a blog that gives a list of what the writer sees as tantamount professional behavior. A similar list can be found in a newspaper article I read online. I agree with everything on these lists, but I’d like to take it a step farther. While the newspaper article wraps up the list with the advice, “Set good examples…within your organization,” I say that’s not enough. Professionalism begins with everyday, ordinary kindness, and that begins at home. I vow to make a renewed effort to set good examples at home. I will try to always speak to my children with kindness; say please, thank you, and you’re welcome to everyone; show respect to all others; take responsibility for my actions; and never say something rude or hurtful to anyone. I will insist that my children work to do the same. I hope that you will all take that vow with me. I’d like to think that we are just one generation away from returning civility, kindness, and professionalism to all aspects of our lives.
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What I was writing about this time last year: Becoming the Learners
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)