In the context of human relationships I have tried to understand how Professionalism fits in and what it could mean. There is a really thin line between being Professional and appearing to be like a stone-hearted zombie.
I first used the word zombie in the professional world when I saw people sitting in their cubicles and staring at the computer monitor without interacting with people around them. They hardly spoke to each other, sometimes not even knowing each other. So I thought, "Are these zombies?"
Interestingly I found there are millions of such zombies everywhere. We are dying a slow death in the hands of technology and the so called "Professionalism." When people become too professional, they forget about relationships. And when they forget relationships they lose their interpersonal skills.
This does not sound very good, however, it is the truth, if you try to notice it. The rigours of work make us forget who we are, who the people around us are, and what we live life for. Well, most of the times, we do not even know why we live this life in the first place!
So here is an example of a "Professional Person" - I will call him PP. Now PP loves to be called a professional. His dad is a senior professional in a multi-national corporate. He also wants to be a great success, like his dad and everyone else. He calls himself a professional.
PP keeps talking about how he does not like his present job as it does not give him enough opportunity, money, and all those other things that we have all heard about. During work hours in his office premises he speaks to an external consultant about his thoughts of leaving his job and sends him his Resume. "Could you edit it for me?" he requests.
PP comes to office at 10.30am and leaves at 6.30pm sharp. "A professional would always maintain discipline, work can wait for tomorrow, I am only paid for 8 hours," he says to himself. During work hours he prefers spending long hours at lunch, and a few more in looking up facebook and twitter and some more social networking through personal phone calls from the office telephone.
"I am proud to represent my company," he tells people attending a conference.
"My dad is trying an inside source to get me a job in his multi-national corporate," he tells his friend.
PP speaks to his former Professor, who is now consulting his company, like a client who means business and uses harsh voice intonation and words which say, "I mean business, so what if you were my Professor?" He thinks that is what a professional should do, right?
Is this professionalism? Or is it the making of a devil in the corporate world?!
I have always advocated the importance of good behaviour and relationships. I have had my share of bad behaviour and difficult relationships, that is what made me realize the importance of relationships further. Professionalism is not about being stern and out of reach. It is about good behaviour, about doing what is right and ethical. If ethics remains only a subject for the management books and courses, we would end up with more zombies, devils and Enrons and Recessions.
It is time we look inside ourselves and discover the human. Being Human is not only about wearing T-Shirts, it is what is inside all of us, still waiting to come out. So bring it out and you will discover new meanings of life, about yourself, and definitely about Professionalism!