Contrary to popular belief, being a professional isn’t just about your chosen field of work. It’s also about your competency and skills as an individual.

Think about a coworker’s impressive presentation skills or your manager’s persuasive speech. They exemplify the qualities of a professional. They likely earned your respect because of their expertise and commitment to their work.

Professionalism is the way you carry yourself, your communication style and your ability to command a room with your presence.

Now, people work in different organizational structures. From the traditional corporate setup to co-working spaces, the work landscape has evolved significantly. So, it’s even more important for us to understand the important characteristics of a professional applicable across sectors and in different environments.

Developing some of the key traits of a professional will help you advance in your career and make a lasting impression in your workplace. Let’s discuss some common traits of professionalism.

What Are Professional Characteristics?

In the workplace, you have to fulfill certain expectations to move forward and fulfill your professional aspirations. This can be your work ethic, how promptly you take action or your accountability in a crisis situation. These are the characteristics of a professional that distinguish you from your coworkers.

You may be working in a client-facing role where you have to deal directly with customers and other external stakeholders. It’s important to build trust with your customers if you want them to stay loyal to your brand. Here, the way you present yourself to them will determine your relationship. For instance, you should be friendly, but not pushy. You should be confident, but not cocky.

Here are a few traits of a professional that you can develop:

  1. Communication Skills

One of the most important qualities of a professional lies in the ability to communicate succinctly and directly. Communication can be both spoken and written—phone conversations, email writing, presentations, memos and meetings. When you’re interacting with stakeholders, you should always be polite and speak clearly. Written communication should be brief and to the point but polite. It’s also effective if every word in your message conveys your intention.

  1. Dependability

As a professional, it’s important to win your coworkers’ trust. You have to be a reliable team member if you want to make an impact. Take responsibility for your actions, engage with your team and make decisions after considering what’s best for everyone involved. You should always come through for your team and support them whenever the situation calls for it.

  1. Workplace Behavior

How you interact with your coworkers determines your workplace behavior. If someone needs help in your area of expertise, you could consider taking some time out of your schedule to help solve their problem. But remember you can say no if you’re busy or have too much on your plate. The point is to be polite, respectful and approachable even when you have to decline a request.

  1. Collaboration And Teamwork

When you’re working with people, you have to collaborate with them to make sure that everyone’s on the same page. For instance, if your junior is struggling with a task, you can guide and mentor them. Additionally, you have to remember that what works for you may not work for others. Say that your coworker wants to deliver a video presentation but you feel that a written report will suffice, you have to come to a conclusion that satisfies all parties.

  1. Empathy

Empathy is a quality that can distinguish you as a successful professional. It’s a trait that helps you understand what others are going through, their emotions and feelings. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes will keep you from making judgments and incorrect assumptions. Developing empathy allows you to connect with your team members better. Being empathetic will even help you build a rapport with your coworkers so they know that they can depend on you in a crisis.

These five qualities of a professional are in no way exhaustive. In fact, some other characteristics are effective organizational skills, negotiation abilities and even your appearance. You can work on the skills that are relevant to you!


Building lasting relationships and connecting with people is at the heart of professionalism. Even freelancers or self-employed individuals have to work collaboratively. Developing important characteristics of a professional is sure to help you make an impression. Harappa Education’s high-impact online course, Expanding Networks, will teach you how to positively influence others and build your network. Enhance your interpersonal skills and learn techniques to achieve your goals.

Explore topics such as Delegation of Authority, the Principles of DelegationProcess of Delegation Types of Delegation from our Harappa Diaries section and manage your teams much more efficiently.

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