Monday, December 26, 2011

Professionalism versus compassion.

We've always touted professionalism to be one of if not the most important quality anyone should bring into any working environment.  Professionalism towards work, towards your colleagues, towards your bosses, towards your client.

Professionalism as defined by Merriam Webster is the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.

Professionalism can be achieved when we are objective about things.  Funny thing is if you really think about it there's no black and white rule of what you should do or shouldn't do to be professional about things.  Then how did all these professionals learn?  Hmm.  Where do you draw the line between being professional and being compassionate especially if you are in leadership?  That's a tough one isn't it?  The only time 'compassion' is mentioned in an organisation is probably in the employee's hand book - the stated amount of 'compassionate' leaves one could take to attend to matters related to the death of a family member.  So does that mean, compassion is only called for when it's a life and death situation?

I don't have an answer for this, really.  And I wonder if you could tell me instead.  What's it really.  Where do you draw the line?  I imagine all these big wall-street kind of corporations in America where money and results rule everything under the sky.  Well, no doubt... when you run a tight ship you'd wanna make sure resources are optimized and returns are calculated and accounted for.  But life was never so complicated before.  Rewind twenty years ago, life was a lot simpler and slower even.  Today, we have so many facades of life; diseases and sickness are rampant and sudden, relationships are volatile and unpredictable, crime rates are soaring and there are a hell lot more accident-causing idiots on the road than before - where I'm getting at is really the fact that life, is becoming more and more unpredictable.  Gone are the days where life was about bringing the bacon home.  Sorry to burst your bubble but the Truman Show is really, just a show.  How could we expect people to go to work and bring the same level of professionalism with them all the time, 24/7/365?

There's no hard and fast rule, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that work groups are evolving to become a support group for individuals.  Because of social media and the obscene amount of time we're spending with one another at work, it's difficult to treat one another as just colleagues anymore.  Well, of course, I am aware that by saying so here stems many office affairs as well.  Now, that's not professional.  Or is it?  Is it so bad to have a relationship at your work place?  (Arr, provided both are single, I mean why not if it doesn't affect work).  But still...  We've been working for so many years now, and I realized that there are things which are simply just grey.  The do's and don'ts in a work environment.  It's all about what we're comfortable with, ain't it?

Personally, I feel that life in general is really becoming a lot more complicated than before.  Vying for bread on the table isn't the only reason anymore.  People are finding self-worth and improvement in other areas where traditionally it was solely defined by family relationships.  People now have an attention span of two seconds where they stop spending quiet time with their loved ones, prefer to be 'working on something' and punching on their stupid smart phones.  People are so much more well-connected to one another and strangers that opens up a different can of wriggly distasteful possibilities.  Life in the 21st century is one hell of a complicated ride man!  And it's becoming a tougher and tougher battle out there.  And for this very reason, I feel that we should always be ever ready to be compassionate at work.  Empathize not sympathize.    Sorry not pity.  If we're just colleagues, then we remain as acquaintance.  But if we're 'war buddies' for having gone through so much with one another, we will and should always have each other's back.  Always.  And that itself is compassion.  No questions asked.

Yup, it's a tough world out there.  So let's try to be more compassionate to each other.  Because really, you never know when you'll need it too.

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