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  • Writer's pictureBarbara J. Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

What creates effective communication? Be professional… always.


a group of 5 professionals in shadow

What creates effective communication? This series of posts shares 8 key principles. Here are the first seven:

Principle #8 is: Communicate professionalism… always.


We communicate professionalism, or unprofessionalism, with our words, our actions, and our very being. Be professional… always.


What difference does communicating professionalism make?

Communicating professionalism can make the difference between success and failure. Why?


Demonstrating professionalism communicates respect, integrity, competence, compassion, excellence, and more.


To be an average communicator… Allow sloppiness in all things. Maintain low standards.

To be an amazing communicator, who effectively communicates… Convey professionalism in all communication. Strive for excellence.


Be professional… always.


How can I convey professionalism?

The manner in which we conduct ourselves demonstrates professionalism or the lack thereof. To be considered credible, it is essential to convey professionalism in our writing and speaking, our attitude, and how we present ourselves. A professional demonstrates respect towards themselves and others.


A previous post and corresponding tip sheet describe five essential ways to convey professionalism. These include:

#1 Demonstrate respect

#2 Show up and follow-through

#3 Demonstrate competence

#4 Communicate with empathy and confidence

#5 Hold to the highest standard


Chapter 39 in Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide, “Business Communication Demonstrates Professionalism” reminds us that...

“Practical strategies for success in business communication include listening first, making connections and building relationships, allowing time to complete the work, and seeking to be of service to others.”


What are the action steps to being professional?

Consider your answers to these questions:

  • What is the demeanor of a professional?

  • How can I demonstrate respect and convey professionalism in my words and actions?

  • How can I promote professionalism through my communication?

Be professional. Communicate professionalism. Always.


What does this look like in real life?

Professionalism can “look” different depending on the circumstance. The definition of professionalism and what it “looks like” can be interpreted differently by various employers, audiences, and other stakeholders. Knowing what is expected in a particular situation is key.


For example, consider that one of the ways we demonstrate professionalism is in how we dress.


When teaching nutrition communication to dietetics students at Purdue, we discussed professionalism, including expectations in how to dress for presentations. Expectations varied with the setting and the audience but maintained the bottom line of respect for themselves and others.


The expectation was to dress within the standards of the host or setting. For example, students presenting in a school setting were expected to ask the teacher what the dress code was and to follow it. Students were encouraged to express their unique personality and taste in clothing but to do so with modesty and respect for others.


Your turn – how can you communicate professionalism?


This series highlights eight key principles from Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide, one from each section of the book. Download a taste of the book with these principles from the link at the top of the home page.


“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” ~ David Maister


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