Be professional not personal


There is a fundamental difference between a professional and a personal relationship, professional relationships are normally guided by professional work ethics or rules, those concerned seek to serve an end goal or goals. Whereas a personal relationship, on the other hand, is about connection, intimacy and openness.

The level of relationship determines how much one shares regarding personal thoughts, feelings, values etc. in personal relationships. What is clear is that both relationships require trust and respect, though the professional relationship is usually stricter.

Although we are human beings first and foremost, we all have some level of emotions that will come to bear in the various aspects of our lives. Whether in a professional environment or a personal environment we must know how to navigate our thoughts, feelings and conversations accordingly.

In other words, we must understand how to conduct ourselves in our professional relationships versus our personal relationships.  We need to understand what is expected from each connection and ensure that the two are not confused. As a life coach I have heard of many professional relationships that have crossed over into personal ones and when not been managed well can become very tricky to manage.

If you find that at times you find it difficult to separate professional and personal relationships, then find below five guiding principles to help you to be more professional rather than personal in your business relationships;

  1. There may be occasions where you find yourself in conflict with a colleague at work. As much as you may want to tell off your colleague (no matter how justified you feel) refrain from doing this, this will take it from professional to personal, this will not yield any positive results. Conflict can occur at work but it is how you manage it that will make all the difference. Depending on the severity of the conflict you may need to call the concerned colleague to resolve the issue. If however, you feel this may result in further conflict then get a mediator involved, make sure to always stick to the facts, be professional, apologize if you need to, just don’t get personal. Remember that you are a professional and you have goals that you need to achieve.
  2. Sometimes we go through personal struggles in life and it can impact our work output. If you are having a hard time in life and it is affecting, you at work then you need to tell HR or somebody at work that you can confide in to give you that support that you need whilst you are going through a trying time. Most organizations are supportive of their employees when they are going through a tough time. If, however, you are one of those persons who has a different challenge every other day then remember that your employer or clients are ultimately looking for results and so everyday challenges will negatively impact your job prospects, your business associates need the right person to deliver on what is expected.
  3. You have heard the saying that your word is your honour. It is even more so the case when it comes to your professional life, this means that your yes should mean your yes and your no should mean no. It is good to try to go beyond your comfort zone but if what is being requested is clearly something that you cannot do, be clear about that, this will help to manage everyone’s expectations. There is nothing more disappointing than over promising and then under delivering. This speaks to credibility.
  1. Although it is good to be honest about what you can deliver on versus what you cannot deliver on, try to demonstrate that you are someone that tries to find solutions. You are not always expected to have all the answers; however you are seen as more valuable when you demonstrate that you know where you can go to find the answer.
  1. Be punctual with timelines, with work, attendance and meetings. Being the friend that is always late can be excused but you do not get the same leeway in a professional environment.

All of the above are expected from personal relationships also but the truth is a personal relationship is far more flexible in the expectations. Remember that a professional relationship needs to be more strictly guided particularly as our livelihoods depend on it.

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