November 23, 2021

How to Cope with Professional Deformations and Burnout: Tips for Future Professionals

A person’s professional development as a process is not always stable and can have a downward tendency. It can be negatively influenced by such phenomena as professional deformation or mental burnout. Unfortunately, yesterday’s student is more likely to feel one of these things. When I needed to do my term paper, especially in an extremely fast way, I also felt burnout. So let’s check what is it and how you can cope with this.

Professional deformation is defined as personality changes that are caused by a person’s professional activity. As a rule, they have a persistent character and extend to all aspects of a person’s physical and mental organization. Mainly professional deformation is viewed negatively – as a phenomenon that makes it difficult for a person to communicate with other people and even reduces his/her work efficiency.

The mechanism of appearance of professional deformation has rather complex dynamics; negative changes begin to slowly but surely take hold both in professional and everyday activities. At first, these are only temporary negative mental states, and then they begin to supplant the positive qualities. Negative qualities completely replace the positive ones, the personality is as if built anew, distorted, and deformed.

Professional deformation affects different sides of the personality: motivational, cognitive, emotional. As a result, a person can have specific attitudes and perceptions. Moreover, it is not uncommon even for new personality traits to emerge. For example, if deformation has manifested itself in the motivational sphere, the person becomes incredibly infatuated with his or her profession to the detriment of other areas of his or her life.

If the cognitive sphere is affected, it is often the result of very narrow specialization in an area of the profession. In this case, the person is interested only in those issues that can help him/her in his/her work, bring him/her to a new professional level, facilitate the performance of tasks. At the same time, he may know absolutely nothing about what goes beyond his professional competence.

Otherwise, this type of deformation can manifest itself in the appearance of professional stereotypes and attitudes based on existing knowledge and skills. They become an integral part of the human personality, an automatism that operates from the subconscious. Such attitudes and stereotypes can hurt a person because of his simplistic approach to problem-solving. Often he thinks that the available level of knowledge is sufficient for effective activity, but in reality, it is not.

Continuous professional development and personal fulfillment can have negative consequences like mental burnout. It affects the personality completely, destroying it and having a negative influence on the efficiency of work activity. Let’s consider the main characteristics of this phenomenon.

The results of psychological burnout are emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (cynicism), and reduction of professional achievements. A person becomes devastated, he/she feels tired of professional activity. Depersonalization manifests itself in a cynical attitude toward work and the objects of one’s labor.

Often this can be observed in social and medical workers, who lose their humanity toward clients and patients. The reduction of professional achievements is expressed in a person’s feeling of own incompetence, non-professionalism, and failure.

The phenomenon of psychological burnout is connected exactly with a person’s professional activity and is most often shown when working with people and helping them. A burnout affects a worker badly, preventing him/her from interacting with clients and efficiently performing his/her professional duties.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is irreversible. The only thing that can be done is to slow down the development of the process. Through rest and temporary withdrawal from business, its progression stops, but after the resumption of work activity in the former volume, everything returns to its normal course.

People burn out due to strained relationships with clients. Working in the social sphere, a person becomes a receiver of a large number of people’s problems; he absorbs this negative energy, which gradually replaces the positive attitude.

Recommendations for Personal Professional Development

Competence and professional development of a person are the results of human aspirations and efforts. However, it is important to know how to act correctly to get a good result and not to fall victim to burnout or professional deformation. It is necessary to assess one’s psychological peculiarities sensibly when choosing a profession. Work, no matter how interesting it is, should not fundamentally change the human personality (especially in a negative way).

The professional development of the person in the organization should be smooth and organic. Here are some tips for employees.

  • Try to adapt to all the changes and innovations in the already established system of work. Do not refuse to learn, do not reject progress.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities the company gives you in terms of professional development, attend training and additional training.
  • Be on the same page as your colleagues, keep them talking. Personal professional development in a team of like-minded people often occurs at a faster pace.
  • Analyze your work. Is it effective? Are you achieving your goals? Do you have enough knowledge and skills? Are you using 100%?
  • Think about whether you can improve the results of your work? Perhaps some methods can help make the work more effective and easier?
  • Carefully analyze your existing skills? What rating are you willing to give to each of them? Which of the skills should be upgraded to a higher level?
  • Think about whether you are in step with the company for which you work, whether your interests coincide?
  • If you find gaps in your knowledge, skills, and abilities, make a plan to remedy the situation. This will be the first step towards self-improvement.
  • A very important point – assess whether you like your work, do you feel in your place? There are times when a person doesn’t want to develop because he doesn’t care about what he does. And in the “right” company, he could make a career because he would be passionate about what he does.

Various factors affect the professional development of an individual. But one of the main ones can be called a genuine interest in his work. Without it, you can learn endlessly, but do not have great achievements. In addition, for many people the impetus for their development is competition. This is the engine that drives them to conquer new career heights.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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