What Does Professionalism Look Like?

By: Gabriel Najera

With the state of the economy being less favorable, employees and businesses are honing in on their professional image to make them stand out from the crowd. With e-mail and the Internet making interactions less casual than before, it's important to understand that professionalism is important and can hurt and/or hinder you in the workplace.

We all recognize a professional image when we see it. It's that special quality that sets certain people apart in business and in social circles. People want it because it's an advantage in many ways. And businesses want employees with a great professional image because it represents the company as well. But what are the qualities that go into creating a professional image? Susan Bixler, author of The Professional Image, has come up with a test to gauge whether you have it or don't. I'm offering our readers a handful of her questions to gauge if you're on the right track to a standout professional image or not. Take the test and see how you do!

 

Your Professional Image Quotient

Directions: Answer True or False to the following

  1. A limp handshake can, at times, create a more powerful impression than a strong handshake. T or F
  2. Changing a meeting location can often change the attitude of the meeting. T or F
  3. The power perch is the seat to the right of the head of the table. T or F
  4. Sit as close to the leader as protocol permits. T or F
  5. The office grapevine is more than 50 percent accurate. T or F
  6. Less than 1 percent of the population can keep a secret. T or F
  7. Keeping up with a client's sports interest is a form of courtesy. T or F
  8. It is generally inappropriate to ask an established customer what their weekend plans are. T or F
  9. Business people who are current on news events are generally considered current on business issues. T or F
  10. If the opportunity presents itself, name-drop. T or F
  11. A man should wait for a woman in business to extend her hand first. T or F
  12. The person with the highest rank in business is always mentioned first in an introduction. Gender or age is not a consideration. T or F
  13. In an office setting, select the armchair, not the sofa. T or F
  14. Exchange business cards at the beginning of the meeting. T or F
  15. Every industry has its own wardrobe requirements. One standard cannot fit everyone. T or F
  16. A decisive statement can override weak body language. T or F
  17. It is easier to influence others and exert status in person than over the phone or by e-mail. T or F
  18. The use of silence is a powerful way to establish professional presence. T or F
  19. The most effective meetings are no more than 30 minutes. T or F
  20. Don't provide an agenda unless it's a meeting to discuss complex issues. T or F
  21. Recapping information for latecomers to a meeting is a considerate thing to do. T or F
  22. If a joke is not funny, but not offensive, laugh anyway. T or F
  23. Reacting to someone's embarrassment by trying to share in the blame is a gracious gesture. T or F
  24. Don't associate yourself with a negative employee, because you will be viewed as negative by association. T or F
  25. A well-written, well-intended thank-you letter can be e-mailed.
  26. Return all phone calls within 48 hours. T or F
  27. If you have a choice, refrain from traveling with your boss. T or F
  28. It is appropriate to wear casual clothing on a business flight if the flight is after business hours. T or F
  29. At a business lunch, because time is limited, begin business discussions as soon as you sit down. T or F
  30. Wearing a dark suit to a black-tie corporate affair is considered acceptable in today's business. T or F
  31. "Business casual" puts the emphasis more on business than on casual. T or F
  32. Don't miss your boss's big speech at the company meeting. T or F
  33. It is considered bad form to invite a good customer to an in-house company office party. T or F
  34. Community involvement is part of having a professional presence. T or F
  35. If a corporate gift has a logo on it, it doesn't have to be of good quality. Inexpensive gifts with a nice note are very acceptable. T or F
_____________________________________________________________________

And here are the Answers. Give yourself one point for each correct answer.

  1. A limp handshake can, at times, create a more powerful impression than a strong handshake. T
  2. Changing a meeting location can often change the attitude of the meeting. T
  3. The power perch is the seat to the right of the head of the table. F
  4. Sit as close to the leader as protocol permits. T
  5. The office grapevine is more than 50 percent accurate. F
  6. Less than 1 percent of the population can keep a secret. T
  7. Keeping up with a client's sports interest is a form of courtesy. T
  8. It is generally inappropriate to ask an established customer what their weekend plans are. F
  9. Business people who are current on news events are generally considered current on business issues. T
  10. If the opportunity presents itself, name-drop. T
  11. A man should wait for a woman in business to extend her hand first. F
  12. The person with the highest rank in business is always mentioned first in an introduction. Gender or age is not a consideration. T
  13. In an office setting, select the armchair, not the sofa. T
  14. Exchange business cards at the beginning of the meeting. T
  15. Every industry has its own wardrobe requirements. One standard cannot fit everyone. T
  16. A decisive statement can override weak body language. F
  17. It is easier to influence others and exert status in person than over the phone or by letter. T
  18. The use of silence is a powerful way to establish professional presence. T
  19. The most effective meetings are no more than 30 minutes. T
  20. Don't provide an agenda unless it's a meeting to discuss complex issues. F
  21. Recapping information for latecomers to a meeting is a considerate thing to do. F
  22. If a joke is not funny, but not offensive, laugh anyway. T
  23. Reacting to someone's embarrassment by trying to share in the blame is a gracious gesture. T
  24. Don't associate yourself with a negative employee, because you will be viewed as negative by association. T
  25. A well-written, well-intended thank-you letter can be e-mailed. F
  26. Return all phone calls within 48 hours. F
  27. If you have a choice, refrain from traveling with your boss. F
  28. It is appropriate to wear casual clothing on a business flight if the flight is after business hours. F
  29. At a business lunch, because time is limited, begin business discussions as soon as you sit down. F
  30. Wearing a dark suit to a black-tie corporate affair is considered acceptable in today's business. F
  31. "Business casual" puts the emphasis more on business than on casual. T
  32. Don't miss your boss's big speech at the company meeting. T
  33. It is considered bad form to invite a good customer to an in-house company office party. F
  34. Community involvement is part of having a professional presence. T
  35. If a corporate gift has a logo on it, it doesn't have to be of good quality. Inexpensive gifts with a nice note are very acceptable. F

About Your Score

As we used to say in high school, "Whad'ja get?"

If your total score is 32 or above, congratulations! You have a great deal of professional presence already.

If your total score is 29-31, you know many of the basics. However you may want to hook up with someone who scored 32 or above and ask them to help you understand the more subtle or complex issues inherent to a professional image. Better yet buy Susan Bixler's book!

If your total score is less than 29, and you feel that you need some advice, call me!

If you would like to know the reasons behind the answers, even if you scored high, e-mail us with "Answers" in the subject header and the number to the questions you want answers to, and we'll send them directly to you.

 

 

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