How to be professional in a work environment

No matter where you work - whether it be a formal or casual work environment – keeping a professional image of yourself will only increase your chances to make a good impression on the company.

It may be a little tricky to get used to, but little things can make a big difference to be the best-behaved employee. Here are a few tips on how to be professional in a work environment…

GIF of Jung, from Kim's Convenience, talking in a car with the caption, "Keep it profesh" and the credit tag "CBC"

Tip #1: Be punctual

GIF of Spongebob Squarepants holding onto Mr. Krab's leg with the caption, "I was a minute late for work" and the credit tag, "Nickelodeon"If you always show up late, whether that be as little as five minutes, your reputation may be at stake. People may think you do not take work seriously and you can end up being treated poorly.

Arriving early to work and to all meetings can say a lot about yourself to your manager. It shows how much you care for your job and the effort you put in to prioritize your job.

Plus, it can give you a window of time to get organized and gather your thoughts for challenges that may arise throughout the day.

Tip #2: Dress accordingly

Make sure to have a conversation beforehand with your manager about the dress code. This will ensure that you aren’t too dressed down or up. However, if you are unable to get in contact with your manager, it is always better to dress more formal on the first day, then you can see what your colleagues wear and adapt to that. Plus, it makes a good first impression.

Knowing what to wear to work will make you feel better about yourself and further boost your confidence. After all, it is true that when you look good, you feel good.

Tip #3: Avoid Gossip

I know, work drama is so juicy and entertaining, but your work environment is not a place to start gossip. This can be passed around very easily and as soon as it gets to someone who is not happy with it, you are in some trouble.If you want to complain about something to get it off your chest, save it for a non-work friend.

If you find yourself in a conversation that is talking negatively about another team member, you can try to change the subject or excuse yourself from the conversation.

GIF of Cardi B talking on stage with the caption, "I'm outta here" and the credit tag "BBMA"

Tip #4: Don't swear

GIF of Ice Cube talking with the caption, "Watch ya mouth" and the credit tag "WFLA"Swearing is starting to be common in today’s workplace culture. It is a way to let off frustration. It can be difficult to know when it is acceptable or not, but I would recommend leaving the profanity at home.

Although your coworkers and managers might have a dirty mouth, as a co-op, it is best to hold back your curse words. You never know who is listening, and if it reaches the wrong ears, your professional image may be affected.

Accidents happen! It is easy to slip up, especially when you have a habit of swearing. How you deal with it is also important. Making a quick apology and moving on can maintain your professional image.

Tip #5: Have a positive attitude

GIF of Aladdin reaching his arm out with the caption, "Do you trust me?" and the credit tag "Disney"Having a strong relationship with your manager is very important, especially when it involves trust.

For example, when you are running late, which may happen frequently, DON’T make up a random excuse, just be honest and tell them the truth. They will appreciate this way more and will further build your relationship.

When you are honest and trustworthy in the workplace, it can facilitate easy and open conversations, which is always great to have and can further enhance the way you collaborate with your colleagues.

Closing Remarks

Now that we know how to act in a professional work environment, it can only go up from here. You can’t go wrong with maintaining a professional image and there could even be rewarding outcomes from doing so. Continue to be your best self and you’ll do great!

GIF of a man riding a stationary bike with the caption, "Look at you! You're a pro!" and the credit tag "Peloton"

About the Author

Mariam Jawanbakht

A photo of Mariam smiling.Social Media Campaign Coordinator

Mariam is an Arts and Business co-op student at the University of Waterloo and is currently completing her third co-op term as a Social Media Campaign Coordinator for Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE). One of the main projects she is working on this term is writing blogs for the Co-operative Education blog page. To date, she has written about helpful co-op tips and student co-op experiences and continues to write more blogs to share information that can benefit other co-op students! Feel free to check out Mariam's LinkedIn


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