Comportment is a word that pretty much went out of favor with debutantes, coming out and walking around with a book on your head to improve your posture. It means your manner, the way that you carry yourself, present yourself. We still make decisions about how to comport ourselves every day, and in different situations, we just don’t think in these terms, and maybe we should – maybe the idea of comportment would help us to distinguish our most professional behavior.
Behaving professionally at work is quite important, regardless of your level within the organization, but what does this really mean? Reintroduction of this formal word, comportment, might help us to crisply define what we mean by professional demeanor.
Comportment doesn’t mean a lack of humor, nor is it dry and stiff. On the other end of the definition of a professional comportment spectrum, we know that it means that we should avoid using any of the words that shocked us or made us giggle as preteens.
When my own boys were at the preteen stage, I knew that they were under a certain social pressure to be part of the group. I let them know that they should be conscious of their surroundings; when in a group of their close male friends they could speak in whatever manner helped them to feel part of the group. If there were small children, girls, or grownups anywhere in ear shot, I expected them to behave in a most civilized manner.
“Every choice moves us closer to or farther away from something. Where are your choices taking your life? What do your behaviors demonstrate that you are saying yes or no to in life?”
Other specific components of appropriate comportment in your particular office might seem out of place or inappropriate in another setting.
“Familiarity may breed contempt in some areas of human behavior, but in the field of social ideas it is the touchstone of acceptability.”
~J. William Galbraith
What components should make up your best work comportment?
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