Displaying a Professional Attitude

by Ashley Miller

The way you act at work has a number of long-reaching effects. An article published in 2007 in the "Graziadio Business Review" states that attitude is one of the most defining factors in the workplace. Your attitude can determine the quality of your work relationships, affect your productivity level and make or break your overall success, including having an impact on factors such as potential pay raises and promotions.


At some point, everyone has encountered co-workers who display poor or unprofessional attitudes. They mope about assignments, gossip about co-workers, complain about the boss and show up late or leave early on a regular basis. Even if you dislike your job, displaying a professional attitude is important because it shows your employer, other staff and clients that you take your job seriously. Maintaining a positive, professional attitude creates a more productive work environment, helps you maintain a healthier perspective and contributes to increased job satisfaction, according to an article published in the Winter 2004 issue of the journal, "Human Resource Management."


Your attitude consists of both internal and external components. The internal component mainly involves the way you view the world, while the external components involve the ways you display this view to others. In the workplace, a professional attitude consists of several main components, according to the University of Northern Iowa Business Professional Readiness Program. A professional attitude means that you have the ability to effectively manage your time, display leadership, act in an ethical manner, show tenacity and determination, act and think creatively, appreciate diversity, focus on customer satisfaction, manage conflicts effectively and display emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence means you don't let your emotions control you -- you learn to control them. This can help you better manage stressful or heated situations with poise and calmness.


Displaying a positive professional attitude requires you to think about and decide how you want to be perceived by others. You try to leave your external concerns and cares at the door when you arrive at work. You dress appropriately and regularly show up to work on time. You are cordial and friendly to your co-workers, respectful to your supervisors and helpful and professional toward customers. When conflicts with co-workers or customers arise, you stay calm and try to help solve problems with an understanding, nonjudgmental attitude. You avoid prejudice or judgment when working with people from backgrounds or belief systems different than your own. You keep your emotions under control as much as possible and try to maintain as much of a positive and productive frame of mind as possible, even under stressful or adverse circumstances.


There are inevitable moments when everyone loses their cool and appears unprofessional or stressed, especially if they dislike their jobs or are dealing with excess stress from other sources. The most important point is to try to refrain from letting these moments affect your overall attitude. But despite your best efforts, negative life events, such as family issues or financial problems, can sometimes cause distraction, stress or even depression. It's important to address these underlying concerns to prevent your work performance and productivity from being affected. Consulting a qualified mental health provider or an employee assistance program counselor might help you get back on track and help you regain a more positive, professional attitude.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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