Professionalism is a broad topic, and it can be challenging to know where to start to improve an area that impacts every aspect of our work. So first, let’s set some goals. Our first goal will be to define and understand professionalism. Our second goal is to relate professionalism to ourselves and how we apply it to our business. The third is putting professionalism to practice.
Although it sounds simple, achieving professionalism requires critical thinking and resources!
Goal 1: Understanding professionalism
Great, but how do we achieve our first goal? Notary2Pro knows that most notary publics and loan signing agents can already tell whether something or someone is professional. However, we want our graduates, notaries, and loan signing agents to understand professionalism on a higher level.
To many, professionalism means habitually achieving high standards in the work you produce and in how you behave—It might resemble
- Ethical actions: honesty, integrity
- Poise: Confidence, Appropriateness
- Competence & Knowledge
- Being Human: Conscientiousness, Listening, Demeanor, Respect
To Notary2Pro, “Professionalism is not the job you do, but rather how you do the job.” Professionalism starts the second you accept a signing and continues for as long as you are in contact with the signers, hiring, title, escrow, or lending company.
Let’s discuss professionalism during a signing and move on to our second goal, relating professionalism to ourselves and analyzing how we apply it to our business.
Goal 2: Analyzing how professional you and your business are
Once you have a firm understanding of professionalism, you should feel confident enough to analyze yourself and the professionalism in your business and understand why every aspect of professionalism is essential to your notary public or loan signing business. The second step also ensures that notaries and loan signing agents connect with professionalism. Connections help us overcome what we might be unfamiliar with or perhaps don’t consider important or challenging. Asking questions about ourselves and being critical of our work helps us make those connections. Once we create this personal connection to professionalism and what it means to us, it becomes easier to apply it when we are on our own and be independent and successful.
Asking questions is easy. Asking the right questions is hard. The best way to start is to ask yourself meaningful questions about professionalism.
What Kind of Meaningful Questions?
Does attire go into poise or competence?
Clothing and apparel have nothing to do with what’s in your head. Instead, it has to do with whether people trust that you can put yourself together in an organized manner, be attentive to detail, and be considerate of shared sensibility. It belongs under poise because being able to dress professionally communicates to other people that you are capable while also building your confidence. Do you see how each aspect impacts the other?
Let’s do another. Gaining trust is essential to professionalism, but how do notary publics and loan signing agents gain said trust?
Being trusted comes from being an ethical person and making the right decisions. Since ethics are often invisible, the notary public or loan signing agent must communicate their ethics through demeanor and actions with the client. These actions look like listening actively, having a professional but friendly tone of voice, being aware of your body language, and being considerate of others.
Let’s look at a question we get a lot from students and graduates of Notary2Pro. What does it mean to have a positive attitude, and what are some challenges you face keeping a positive attitude?
In many instances, you will run into rude, inconsiderate clients, and it’s hard to keep a positive attitude. Ask yourself the critical internal question: Why is it hard? Your answer might be, “Well, I’m frustrated about them not understanding me, not respecting me, etc.” Ask yourself the following question, “How can I address this?” Determine if there is any way you can fix their reaction. Perhaps you could explain yourself better, make up for a mistake (even if you aren’t to blame), and empathize with them by demonstrating that you understand their frustrations. If there isn’t a solution, keeping your poise in this instance may be about setting appropriate boundaries to complete the job. It would be best if you always relied on your professional skills to help you through these situations. Say to yourself, “I can do this signing as I choose. Although my humanity is being disrespected and not valued, I will complete this signing with competence and integrity and remain appropriate and professional.” Although the signer may not be positive, this is a positive interaction because you did not allow the signer to bring you out of character or take away from your professional manner. You are looking for constructive ways to fix the problem, which will please any client.
Let’s look at some trickier questions. Is wearing strong perfume or cologne professional?
Most experienced notary publics and loan signing agents suggest not wearing perfumes or colognes during a signing because certain scents affect the comfort levels of signers differently. The signers may have an allergy or sensitivity to different scents.
Consider this question: Is wearing high heels or slick dress shoes professional?
Although some notary publics and loan signing agents may disagree, our experts at Notary2Pro believe that wearing uncomfortable shoes such as high heels or dress shoes may impact one’s ability to perform the signing well. Although, there is always a middle ground. As a professional, you should always feel comfortable yet confident in your appearance. You may wear your favorite perfume or pair of shoes, but never let it impact the client. Additionally, do not let the client’s ideas of a ‘successful image’ affect your ability to complete a signing comfortably. After all, some signing locations are hard to reach and would be dangerous in high heels or slick dress shoes.
Notary2Pro staff and faculty have compiled a list of items you may want to keep handy. Regarding appropriate attire, don’t be afraid to research professional business attire or smart casual attire.
Notary2Pro Professional List
Brush your teeth and hair before any signing.
Make sure your hands, face, and body are clean.
Always wear sensible closed-toed shoes.
Wear clothing free of holes and stains, with minimal wrinkles.
Ensure your clothing is clean, provides coverage, and demonstrates that you are there to conduct a professional signing, not to work out or go on a date.
Thoroughly understand what is appropriate.
Communicate what you know for the client’s benefit.
Ensure you are speaking clearly, and in language that the signer will understand.
Focus on pronouncing your words, speaking slower, or changing vocabulary to fit the needs of the signer.
Be resourceful when encountering what you do not know by informing the signer early that you will need time to collect the correct information.
Be prepared and keep up with new industry information and any new state rules and regulations.
Always consider others, what position they may be in, and what they may be facing internally or emotionally.
Listen to the client and validate their concerns and feelings.
Let clients know you understand what they are communicating.
Show a basic level of respect for other people.
Be present with your client by giving them eye contact, actively listening, and remaining engaged and open.
Be personable with the client and signer without oversharing yourself. Always remember that you are a paid professional providing a service.
Be respectful to yourself and the notary public and loan signing profession. Ensure that every client is appreciative and respectful of your time so that you can build a long-term career.
Goal #3: Putting professionalism into practice
Putting professionalism into practice is a skill that will continue to improve as you analyze your actions and your business over time. Professionalism sometimes requires you to find answers within yourself.
Here are some thought experiments you can consider and decide how to approach. If you are having trouble with the answers, revisit some critical questions.
Ethical actions, Honesty, Integrity: There is something fishy going on with the documents from a signing. You have a scheduled loan signing, but you’re concerned the signer is being taken advantage of by a family member. Bringing this issue to the bank or client’s attention may mean you lose this job. How would an experienced notary public or loan signing agent professionally conduct themselves in this instance?
Appropriateness, Confidence, Poise: A signer yells at you because you made a mistake on a document. What do you do?
Knowledge, Competence: There is something that you come across on a loan document that seems odd. It is something you haven’t encountered or experienced. What are your next steps?