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A key ingredient of professionalism

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BY GLENN SAPIR
Following are some of the comments offered by Glenn Sapir, as part of at three-person panel that presented a session on professionalism at the 2011 OWAA Conference.
In researching the word “professionalism,” I haven’t bothered to read a Merriam Webster. In regard to this topic, I’d pay more attention to what a Merriam’s gobbler would have to say. Talking turkey boils down to basic communication, and in my opinion, professionalism boils down to basics as well. Professionalism is born out of codes of common courtesy and conduct and requires considerate communication among all parties involved. Your professional standards are a reflection of whom you are, how you treat others and how you approach a task — any task. Professionalism, in my opinion, has less to do with how well you write or edit as it does with the demeanor with which you fulfill your assignment and your responsibilities. And if you do your job conscientiously, in a timely manner, thoroughly and as well as you can, you have reached a high level of professionalism.
I would like to emphasize one aspect of professionalism, and in my opinion, it is a reflection of someone’s codes of courtesy and conduct and their manner and manners of communicating.
That aspect comes under the heading of a single word — acknowledgement — and lack of acknowledgement is a pet peeve of mine.
In this electronic age, acknowledging receipt of a query, a request, an article submission or any other communication is ridiculously simple.
Examples:
“Attached is my manuscript assigned for the October issue, due on July 28. Thank you for the assignment. If you determine that any aspect of the article needs to be improved, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
“Thank you for this opportunity.
“Robert Writer”
How long will it then take to press “Reply,” and type “Thanks”? Or if you really have time, “Thanks for the submission, a week ahead of deadline. I look forward to reviewing it.”
“Eddie Editor” and press “Send.”
Maybe a younger generation is so used to using electronic communication that it has total faith in its delivery, so that Eddie Editor doesn’t feel he needs to acknowledge. And Robert Writer might believe that if the submission did not go through, he would have gotten an “Undeliverable” message from his email server.
But that’s not good enough. I want to know that my communication went through, was opened and accepted.
If Eddie Editor reads the manuscript, finds an area of deficiency and sends an email asking for more information in a certain part of the manuscript and that he’d like that revision by Aug. 1, shouldn’t he expect a reply of acknowledgement? Should Eddie Editor be wondering whether Robert Writer got his email? No, a professional will acknowledge receipt of the request and assure the editor he will address the request and that he will get the submission back to him by the deadline.
Without acknowledgement, doubt may needlessly creep into your mind. Lack of acknowledgement can even set the stage for disaster. Acknowledging correspondence is quick, simple, important — and, yes, professional.
In any assignment I send out via email, I outline the assignment, including scope, deadline, word length, et cetera, and ask that the writer acknowledge receipt of my email and confirm his or her interest and availability in fulfilling the terms of the assignment. I don’t leave anything to chance. Each member knows what to expect from the other, and they know that meeting those expectations will bring a satisfactory result.
That, I believe, is an important part of a professional relationship. ♦
—Glenn Sapir is director of editorial services for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He is also an outdoor columnist for The Journal News. A member since 1975, Sapir is from Putnam Valley, N.Y. Contact him at gsapir@earthlink.net.
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