How To Develop a Professional Attitude

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated January 31, 2023

Published November 23, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Most people adjust the way they present themselves, also known as their attitude, to match the situation they find themselves in, whether it's personal or professional. For example, you may act differently with your boss than you do with your brother. Knowing how to develop an appropriate professional attitude can help you maximize your professional connections and make excellent impressions at work.

In this article, we explain what a professional attitude is, describe how to develop a professional attitude and offer tips for improving your professional attitude.

Related: 10 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude

What is a professional attitude?

A professional attitude is the manner in which you conduct yourself in a professional setting. In this context, the term attitude often describes both how you appear and how you act.

A professional attitude is often more formal than a personal attitude, in terms of appearance, comportment and interaction. While personal attitudes come relatively naturally to most people, professional attitudes are often specifically developed and tweaked to best fit the environment, workplace or group of people you're interacting with.

Related: 10 Ways To Have a More Positive Attitude at Work

How to develop a professional attitude

If you'd like to develop your own professional attitude for work or other professional settings, use these steps to help you:

1. Upgrade your wardrobe

One of the first things you can do to improve your professional attitude is to invest in a professional wardrobe. "Professional" clothing can vary dramatically depending on what industry you work in and your company's specific dress code.

If you work in a formal setting, like a law office, suits or equivalent clothing items are probably most appropriate. If you work in an informal workplace or in a labor-intensive position where you need freedom of movement and protective fabrics, ensure the clothing you wear is clean and free of damage while still meeting the needs of your job.

2. Use formal speech

In most workplaces, speaking more formally than you would with friends and relatives is one of the best ways to establish your professional attitude. You can increase the professionalism of your speech by:

  • Using proper grammar

  • Avoiding slang and curse words

  • Speaking about work-related subjects rather than personal topics

  • Using niceties like "please" and "thank you" regularly with both colleagues and customers

3. Focus on work

When at work, focus on work. Dedicate yourself to your job duties and helping others on your team or in your department meet their objectives. Keep your work area clean and tidy and ensure you meet your deadlines. Showing that your job is your top priority while at work is a fantastic way to develop your professional attitude and build your professional reputation.

4. Be prepared

Come to work or other professional engagements prepared. Depending on your role or the expectations of the event, this probably means carrying a notebook and pen at a minimum or your laptop or tablet if you need more resources. With a small set of tools, you can take notes, share ideas or produce examples when needed.

5. Take initiative

Taking initiative in the workplace can help establish your professional attitude. Ask your supervisors for ways you can help your colleagues or for additional tasks if you finish your work early. Seek out professional development opportunities and ask your supervisors for additional training.

6. Ask for feedback

Seek feedback from your supervisors and your colleagues on your work performance and professional comportment. Accept the feedback and use it to improve your productivity and skills and to improve your professional demeanor in work-related settings.

7. Demonstrate gratitude

Show through your attitude and actions that you're happy to have your job and appreciate your coworkers. Gratitude is a great tool for establishing a positive professional attitude.

Related: 15 Characteristics of Professionals

Common traits associated with a professional attitude

A professional attitude is a collection of traits and choices. Review the common traits associated with professional people:

  • Honesty: Part of maintaining a professional attitude is remaining transparent and honest at all times.

  • Respect: Thoughtful professionals respect everyone on their team and respect their customers.

  • Communication: Maintaining open and clear communication is a vital component of a professional attitude.

  • Integrity: Professional attitude is often associated with integrity, by doing the right thing whenever possible.

  • Care: Having a professional attitude means caring about your job, your company and your coworkers.

  • Accountability: Those with a professional attitude hold themselves accountable for their errors or missteps.

  • Commitment: A professional attitude means a commitment to your job and your career development.

Related: 12 Important Professional Qualities To Develop

Tips for improving your professional attitude

Use these tips to help you improve your professional attitude while in the office or representing your company in a professional setting:

Know your workplace

When it comes to company culture, you know your workplace best. Some organizations are more conservative in their sartorial style and prefer employees with tattoos or piercings to cover those up, while other companies support their employee's body modifications. Follow the standards set by your workplace, and if in doubt, speak with your manager or human resources representative about appearance expectations.

Act like a leader

Even if you're not in a leadership role, it's likely that someone on your team or in your department looks to you for guidance. Act like a leader at all times by remaining calm, thoughtful and work-focused. As a bonus, acting like a leader can help your supervisor see that you're a good candidate for promotion into a formal leadership position.

Manage any conflicts

Conflict is a normal and healthy part of any relationship, including professional relationships between colleagues. How you handle conflict, however, can have a major impact on how you're perceived professionally and your ability to complete your tasks. Learn how to effectively and respectfully manage conflict.

Consider your responses

Many people communicate with their colleagues and customers through a number of different platforms, including email, text messaging and phone calls. While you should strive to respond to queries within 24 hours, take the time to carefully consider your response to ensure your message is clear, tactful and free from grammatical errors.

Be reliable

Professionals are reliable. Show that you're a reliable employee by arriving to work slightly early every day, requesting time off in advance and regularly meeting your deadlines.

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