Welcome back! I am currently a Junior at Northern Illinois University. From freshman year to now I developed myself immensely. Primarily focusing on my professionalism. Once I joined organizations and obtained a job on campus, I realized I did not only represent myself anymore. Now, I must uphold the image and characteristics of my affiliations. I focused on developing specific professional skills, specifically my communication. When it comes to public speaking or busy social environments, my social anxiety would kick in before I would walk into the room. When I get nervous, I sweat like I just got finished doing burpees in a sauna. Okay, not that much but it’s noticeable. The main cause of my anxiety was due to not being completely comfortable with myself so it made me over think in these given situations.
I got physically and mentally tired of making up excuses for why I was sweating. Excuses like ” It’s hot in here” during the winter time. I changed from being reactive to proactive. I started reading books, obtaining leadership positions that forced me into social environments; where I learned how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and reduce my overthinking. My social anxiety has gotten significantly better, but it is still a work in progress.
I say all this because as Kings and Queens of color in a society that was not designed for us but rather against us. We automatically must work three times as hard for the same opportunities. My personal example is just another hurdle some Kings must jump over for those opportunities. Once we get them, we are then tested on our ability. Ironically, we tend to break records, achieve the unthinkable, and be the topic of discussion. Remember this King, we do not have to prove to anybody that we are great……. because they already know that. Hence the reason why they TRY and keep us down. They don’t want to see us win.
Having that said, we must develop the essential skills. Professionalism can be described as the standard of skills, behavior, and etiquette within a place of work. Professionalism can be catered to a specific field, however, there are 5 major skills that are required in all fields.
Those 5 skills are Time management, Organization, Communication, Attitude, and Appearance. These skills will not only make you stand out from others but it will allow you to be more successful. Let’s dive in.
Time management is the process of allocating your time to specific activities based on importance and duration. This is one of those habits that is valued everywhere. If you are a very timely and punctual person your productivity rate excels, less stress, and it increases personal progression.
- Plan Ahead
Take at least 5-10 minutes the day before to schedule any meetings, class, downtime, lunch, work, etc. Former Quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Charlie Batch, once said, “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” If you are always ready, you never will have to get ready.
- Have Morning and Night Routines
Morning and night routines set the mood for how your day will begin and finish. In addition, productivity will increase because if your morning or night includes exercise, reading, praying etc. You are giving yourself that self-development and healing that is required to take on the next days to come.
- Utilize a daily planner/ Calendar/ To-List
Each of these tools serves different purposes. A to-do list is simply a visual list of all the vital tasks that need to be completed as soon as possible on a given day. A daily planner’s purpose is to visually allocate your 24 hours in a day for events, assignments, obligations, meetings, tasks. etc. A calendar is a visual monthly/yearly planner to assign days for events, meetings, appointments, etc. Calendars allow you to see future events for you to properly prepare for that day. Visually seeing your schedule will allow you to never forget obligations, and always stay on point.
- Early is on time, and on time is late
This is very crucial. Kings and Queens, we must get out of the habit of “CPT”. You all know what I’m talking about. We have to stop leaving out the house at 5:40pm when you KNOW the event starts at 6:00pm! This habit may transfer from social to professional environments which will be detrimental. It does not only reinforce the stereotype but it makes you less credible and unprofessional as a person. Let’s be at least 15 minutes early by getting ready earlier, and procrastinating less. You do not know what inconveniences you may run into.
Organization is a structured method that arranges things in a specific order. Organization and time management can be compared to good and evil. You can’t have one without the other. Being organized goes outside of time management, and focuses more on the physical things around you. For example, keeping all your important tax documents neatly filed in alphabetical order in an overhead cabinet located in your office next to the lampstand. That was a mouthful but being organized is that serious sometimes. Organization skills require discipline and precision. Knowing exactly where something is when you need is the key to success.
- Prepare your outfits for the next day
This organization method will make life much easier. If you take time to put outfits together for optimal freshness, then save yourself a headache in the morning and take the time to curate outfits the day before.
- Give all important things a specific place and label
Having a detailed label for any kinds of files electronically, and physically will reduce the guesswork behind what the file is when searching. Also, giving a specific location for a certain item or file allows you to never misplace it. Knowing where everything is will save time and stress.
- Always keep these things on your personal
- Phone & Charger
- Notepad for shopping lists, to-do lists, notes, and daily thoughts/ideas
Keeping these items in your bag or pocket will ensure that you never lack in any form. Of course, you can add items to this list for personalization but every King and Queen can agree these are essentials.
Knowing how to effectively communicate in a business or casual setting is crucial. Communication is what structures all human interaction. What you say plays a huge role but your non-verbal’s gives what you say expression, character, and life. Technology is innovating the way we communicate. Having that said, be timely, straightforward, and conscious of what you say online to uphold a professional image.
Kings and Queens this skill is vital to your success in any professional interaction. Code-switching is altering your dialect to a specific social environment. This means I am not going to talk to a potential business partner the same way I talk to my friend of 15 years. It is as simple as “what you on bro” vs “what are you doing?” White America demeans us when we use lingo, because “they can’t understand it” or it is “not proper English” Most lingo terms are being used by the masses like turnt, lit, and dope. Proper English can be very systematic because dialect and etymology can have a significant effect on our mindset. It also can affect what we put out into the world based on what the words truly mean and the history of it. It is in our culture to create lingo of our own. Therefore, be conscious of when and when not to use lingo.
- Keep your word
Here me when I say this King. The one thing that stuck with me as a kid that my dad always said was, “A man is nothing without his word, his word is all he has.” This is powerful because it is very true. Being conscious of your verbal commitments, and conversations. Verbal commitments can establish trust with others or ruin trust if you do not follow through.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say
In any, if not every interaction, confidence plays a huge role in your demeanor. If you give off the vibe that you do not believe what you’re saying, how do expect others to believe you?
-When you speak, speak with a purpose.
-Think about what you want to say and how you say it.
-Speak to be listened to not to be heard.
-Make it a habit to speak at a volume listeners can hear you, and articulate so there is no confusion on what you meant.
- Improve your vocabulary and knowledge
As all King’s should do, consistently feed your brain with knowledge. by reading and research. To become an effective communicator expanding your vocabulary and knowledge is vital. This skill is valuable in any professional field of work.
You may look at this one and wonder “how does my attitude play into professionalism?” It plays a huge role. Your attitude towards something determines how you will treat it, and how others will treat you. If you go to work sighing all day, regretting that you are there, and giving no effort. Your boss will catch on to that vibe and treat you like you don’t want to be there. Do not be surprised if your boss hits you with the firing speech. Think about it, what successful entrepreneur do you think had a negative outlook on what they were creating? I’ll wait. Your mood can either push you towards striving for greatness or push you into failing continuously. You can only control your mood, your word, and your actions. Be conscious of all of them.
- Be Aware of Your Actions
Having a positive, and influential attitude starts by recognizing the mood you project to the world. Recognizing your actions makes you obtain more control of your emotions and thought processes. For example, greeting everybody in a networking venue vs being secluded on the phone. The small changes go a long way.
- Find what motivates you
Something that motivates me is seeing people positively connect with one another. Being in a room full of Black Kings for the upliftment of our community is overwhelming motivating to me. Therefore, in any situation that is my attitude. I have the mindset of wanting to assist you in your growth, regardless of any external influences that may affect my mood.
Finally…. your appearance is what informs people about you before you say or do anything. In any place of work from construction work, to a business meeting; your uniform for that professional setting gives the world an idea of what you are about. This is important for us Kings. A majority of our young kings are being raised in an environment where all they see is sagging, expensive street clothes, and jewelry. This uniform does not correlate with any profession besides most of today’s rappers. The media portrays us as thugs, criminals, ignorant, out of control, you name it. Having that said, I suggest that we change the narrative by practicing Image Busting. My current college organization Black Male Initiative has image-busting as one of our sub-pillars. Image Busting is defeating the negative stereotypes that Black males only wear suits to funerals, job interviews, court, etc. We embed dress clothes into our everyday wardrobe so when we do dress professionally it is nothing new to us. Our young King’s will see that there are other life routes aside from being an athlete, rapper, or drug dealer.
- Own at least one well-fitting navy or gray suit
A well-fitting Navy and gray suits are the essentials when owning suits. They can easily be paired and matched with other dress clothes.
- Diversify your wardrobe
Have a balanced mixture of clothes from suits to athleisure to street clothes. Balance is everything.
- Fit clothes to your body’s proportions
Fittings clothes to your body proportions rather than following trends can enhance your style and your professional appearance. We all have different body types so a specific fashion trend may not work well with your body. However, your body will always fit and look well in clothes that are proportioned to it.
- Wear clothes that are appropriate for your workplace
- Do not over accessorize
Too much of anything can be detrimental to your character. Too many accessories can be the center of attention. In business settings, less is more.
After absorbing all that information, it may seem like a lot. I would suggest recognizing what professional skills you can improve on, and utilizing this article as a guide on where to start your journey.
I hope you enjoyed the content! Drop any questions, comments, concerns or critiques below related to this post! Anything is helpful. Share, subscribe, and continue to Empower Your Inner Royalty.
For more in-depth detail about any of the skills above. Check out these websites below.