This month I’ll be exploring the topic of professionalism – what it means to me and how to learn to be a professional. Music therapist, Mallory Even, shares her ‘rule of thumb’ when it comes to professionalism in this guest post.
Any “Super Fun Night” fans out there? Last week’s episode was focused on Kimmie becoming more professional so that she could receive a promotion.
- “’Kimmie’ is now Kimberly.”
- “She wears glasses and doesn’t snort-laugh anymore; she giggles.”
- “She answers the phone like this: ‘Hi. This is Kimberly.’”
- And, she wears pearls and pulls her hair into a bun.
Is this what we perceive as being “professional?” For the most part, I would say yes. When searching “Professionalism” on Google, the first definition to appear is, “the competence or skill expected of a professional.” But remember that age-old saying of not using the word in the definition? So, my working (and ever-changing) definition would be something like this: “The act of representing ones’ own profession; maintaining an attitude, look and behavior that reflects ones’ profession in a positive, honest and ethical manner.”
I opened my practice, Metro Music Therapy, in 2007, and since then I have adopted the attitude of matching my level of professionalism to the level that is being directly presented to me. The basic information in my sales pitch never changes (what is MT, why does it work, why you should hire MMT), but the way that I present the information always changes. If I am meeting with a “numbers person” who needs to be serious and wants “just the facts, ma’am,” then I, too will be serious and give them facts. If I am meeting with another music therapist who practices music therapy in my same style, then we can relate to and relax with each other a little more – but we can still be professional in the way that we discuss our patients, clients, facilities, and other music therapists.
Last week, I walked into a facility in which I had a “let me introduce you to music therapy” meeting scheduled. The CEO had invited me to come tell her more about what my company could do for their clients. I was wearing my professional attire with my professional nametag, and I was using my professional bag/briefcase (a nice change of pace from the diaper bag!). A few minutes after I arrived, the CEO came in the door, and she was accompanied by a cute little dog at her side who was almost smiling at me as he ran over to greet me. “I hope you don’t mind, this is our therapy dog! We are kind of relaxed around here!” And with that small gesture and statement, the tone was set for our meeting. This tone was a little more relaxed than I had planned, but we still discussed serious, clinical issues … all the while the dog was staring at us through the glass doors of the office waiting to come in and play with us. ☺
I guess my general rule of thumb when deciding if I am acting professional is to ask myself, “Is this the appropriate place/time/situation/audience in which to say this or act like this?” If you I am the least bit hesitant to say “yes” to myself, then I usually hold back on the snort-laugh, the slang terminology or the fist-bump – because while all of those things have their place in some professional settings, they may not be widely accepted in all professional settings. Know your audience!
Mallory Even, MT-BC, NICU Music Therapist, is a board-certified music therapist, a certified NICU music therapist, the coordinator of Beat Teams Atlanta and is the owner of Metro Music Therapy in Atlanta, GA. Mallory and her team share their love for all things music therapy on their company’s blog.