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How Professionalism Can Influence Decisions in Interior Design – What You Need to Know

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how Professionalism Influences Decisions in Interior Design Business | Behind the Design

I recently took a board position with the Colorado Business Women non-profit group. A women's organization dedicated to empowering and inspiring businesswomen in Colorado. During my meeting with my past-board member, she commented on the importance of professionalism in business and how important it is for a successful business. It spurred a thought as many younger professionals dress and act fairly casually in business settings.

While teaching, many students come to class in sweats, which I think is completely normal. However, making the transition to a business setting isn't always easy. Quite frankly, not as comfortable either. Your professionalism is critical to your success as an interior designer. Professionalism goes way beyond what you wear. It includes your communication style, how people perceive you, your effectiveness in team meetings, selling your ideas, and marketing your services. Professionalism, or lack thereof, can greatly impact whether you get a job or a client.

In this article, we discuss professionalism, its impact on clients' buying decisions, the different styles of professionalism, and its impact on a design firm.


What is Professionalism?

Professionalism is being courteous, respectful, and well-prepared in all business interactions. It includes honesty, integrity, communication, self-accountability, teamwork, and adaptability to changing needs and situations. It also means taking ownership of your mistakes or successes. All these traits come together to create a professional demeanor that will help you be more successful in your career.

It is also important to remember that professionalism is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Often, professionals can develop the skills necessary to conduct themselves professionally by observing the behavior of other professionals or mentors. 

Do your clothes, makeup, and hairstyle whether someone thinks you are professional?

Research suggests that people make snap judgments about someone's trustworthiness based on how they look. It may not seem fair, but it is the truth. Therefore, it makes sense that how you dress and groom yourself can impact whether someone perceives you as a professional. For example, even if you are dressed in business casual attire instead of a full suit and tie, neatly combed hair, minimal makeup, and jewelry will give the perception of professionalism. 

People also tend to be more trusting and comfortable with those who dress in similar styles. This means that if you are meeting with a client, it is important to take some time to research their culture and dress appropriately for the meeting. It will help you create a good first impression which can go a long way. The same goes when interviewing for a new job. It is always good to lean toward professional business attire when interviewing; however, a suit isn't always necessary. 


Why is Professionalism Important to Interior Design?

Professionalism is important in the interior design field because it gives clients and other colleagues the peace of mind to know that their projects, no matter how big or small, will be handled with the utmost respect and care. Interior designers must exhibit professionalism when dealing with clients, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, architects, and other industry professionals. 

Professionalism is to interior design, as cleanliness is to restaurants. It sets the standard for how clients and colleagues interact with you and your business. Professionalism can also set you apart from others in the interior design industry. Clients are more likely to hire an experienced designer that takes their job seriously rather than someone who looks sloppy or unprofessional. 

Being professional also means having a good attitude no matter how difficult a project is. As an interior designer, you can make a client's dream space come to life, but that doesn't mean it will always be easy or conflict-free. Managing clients' expectations and demands can be difficult without compromising professionalism. It is important always to remain polite and courteous while handling any situation head-on. 


The Impact of Professionalism on Client's Buying Decisions

I often wonder how buying decisions are impacted by professionalism or lack thereof. Most of us have visited a store or restaurant where an employee was rude or lazy. This experience happened to me just the other day at the airport. I ordered food from Shake Shack; I felt I was bothering the clerk. I was pretty sure my food was going to come out wrong. Luckily, it didn't come out wrong, just a little overcooked, but still delicious. 

Think about how your experience with poor service affects your buying decision. You probably won't buy much, if at all, and you may not shop there again. This same principle applies to the interior design industry. Clients want to work with someone professional, reliable, and passionate about their job. 

When working with clients, your professionalism can directly impact their decision to buy your services or not. Clients want to work with designers they trust and respect. Professionalism is the key that helps build this trust between you and your client.

Professionalism also impacts clients' buying decisions regarding the quality of service they receive from you. When you are professional, you are more likely to deliver a quality product that meets the client's needs. Clients value professionalism and will take it into account when deciding whether or not to purchase your services. Remember, you are not just selling your design services; you are selling an experience. 

A professional image also makes an impression on potential clients before they meet you. It is important to have a strong brand that includes a professional website, a well-designed portfolio, and a client presentation that shows off your skills and capabilities. If these elements are not present or up to par, clients may think twice about working with you. 

As a professional interior designer, it's important to remember that professionalism is an ongoing process. It requires ongoing effort and dedication to stay on top of industry trends, hone your skills, and build client relationships. With the right attitude and commitment, you can create a successful career in interior design. 


Different Types of Professionalism

Believe it or not, professionalism spreads across many areas. Some of these include: 

  • Respect for colleagues, clients, and vendors. 
  • Time management skills. 
  • Self-discipline and dedication to reaching goals. 
  • Honesty and integrity when dealing with others. 
  • Effective communication with all parties involved in a project or process. 
  • Problem-solving and decision-making abilities. 
  • Professional dress

Therefore, the different types of professionalism are pivotal in shaping a prosperous career, particularly as an interior designer. Upholding these types of professionalism not only enhances individual performance but also refines the business's overall image, thereby fostering stronger relationships with clients and paving the way for success.

How to Improve Professionalism in a Design Firm

It is important for a design firm to maintain professional standards of excellence. The following tips can be implemented to help your business uphold standards across all projects and employees: 

  • Establish and document rules, regulations, and expectations. 
  • Set SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific  
  • Maintain open lines of communication between employees and management. 
  • Prioritize client satisfaction
  • Mentor younger professionals
  • Set an example in terms of dress, punctuality, and work ethics 
  • Create an environment based on trust, respect, and collaboration. 

Design firms can create a culture conducive to professional excellence with these tips. By fostering such an environment, design firms will be able to attract talented professionals and maximize their output through improved productivity and better client relationships.


10 Tips to Being More Professional for Emerging Professionals

When transitioning to a new job or career, switching your mindset from college to the professional workforce can be difficult. Becoming more professional can enhance your reputation, boost your career prospects, and improve your relationships at work. Here are some tips to help you appear more professional:

  1. Communicate Effectively: Clear and concise communication is key in a professional setting. Be respectful in your interactions, respond promptly to emails and messages, and avoid using slang or overly casual language.
  2. Dress Appropriately: Dressing appropriately for your workplace shows respect for your position and the people you work with. Even if your office has a casual dress code, looking neat and put together is still important.
  3. Be Punctual: Being on time for meetings, deadlines, and appointments shows that you respect other people's time and can be relied upon.
  4. Stay Organized: Keeping your workspace tidy and maintaining an organized schedule helps you stay productive and conveys that you're dedicated and disciplined.
  5. Show Respect: Treat everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of their position. Avoid gossip and show appreciation for others' work.
  6. Maintain a Positive Attitude: A positive attitude can help you navigate challenges and make a good impression on others. Try to stay upbeat, even in stressful situations.
  7. Continue Learning: Professionals never stop learning. Stay updated on industry trends, attend relevant workshops or seminars, and seek feedback to improve your skills.
  8. Demonstrate Integrity: Always be honest and transparent in your dealings. Uphold your commitments and take responsibility for your actions.
  9. Practice Good Etiquette: This includes basic manners like saying please and thank you but also involves understanding office norms and expectations.
  10. Stay Composed Under Pressure: Professionals can handle stress and pressure with grace. Develop coping mechanisms to manage stress and keep your emotions under control in the workplace.

Remember, professionalism isn't just about how you look or talk—it's also about how you behave, treat others, and handle your responsibilities.

In conclusion, professionalism combines qualities that help you succeed in the workplace. These include exhibiting proper etiquette and manners, maintaining a positive attitude, demonstrating integrity and respect for others, staying organized and punctual, continuing to learn, and remaining composed under pressure. Following these guidelines leave a lasting impression on your colleagues. 

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