Putting the “Pro” in “Professional"

By Sheri Harshberger

There is always a lot of discussion about what "professional" means with respect to card reading. Does it mean being paid via set fee, donation or at all? Does it mean having a business license? Does it have to do with how readings are done or how many? Does it mean the reader has certificates, degrees or certifications, or if the readings he or she does are a sole source of income? While all of these things can be important…and feed into the definition of what "professional" is, these things are really only part of it.

In my opinion, "professional" is less a label than it is behavior. I am not a "professional" reader, I am a reader who conducts herself "professionally." In the most simplified form, this can be boiled down to a good code of ethics that forms the framework for an ethical practice. The ATA has a good one that can serve as a basis for the development of a more concise and personalized one. Even if you don't have an official one, if you practice the Golden Rule of "Do Unto Others…" you have a code of ethics.

There are several books and resources on the internet that cover doing readings as a business. Many cover topics such as: determining if you are ready to have a reading business, developing a code of ethics, performing readings in person, via email or via phone, how to deal with querents, how to properly frame questions, rituals that can be used, marketing, etc. These are all very important things to consider when the decision is made to start reading for others. One of the most important things is that code of ethics and the commitment to not just having one, but to adhering to it… and including something in it about commitments and the follow through on those commitments.

I feel compelled to write this because of a continuing trend I am seeing at the venues I and friends of mine have been reading at. The "no show" and the public's impression of the "no show.” Committing to read at a venue and then not showing up with little or no notice gives the persons involved with putting on the venue (and attendees) a poor impression and it reflects badly on readers as a whole. In the best case scenario it sets an example of unprofessionalism and flakiness. In the worst case scenario it could lead to legal action and lawsuits for breaching contracts.

If you find that you are not attending venues that you have committed to attend more frequently than you actually attend, it may be time to examine why that is or decide not to commit to do them in the first place. Perhaps you are overly sensitive to the energies that can be present at those types of venues and another type of venue or platform for reading may be more compatible. It may sound harsh to say, but imagine how you would feel if you had someone commit to doing a party for you and then didn’t show up, with or without a last minute call. Very disappointing and upsetting especially if that person was going to be the showcase entertainment or highlight of  the party.

Other important, and yet frequently overlooked professional practices for readers include: showing up early at a venue and timing set up so that you are ready to go when the event starts, parking away from the front or entrances of the venue so that attendees (the paying public or guests) have the easiest and most convenient access to the event, being sensitive to the other readers around you if you are using a timer with a loud bell or buzz (it can be disruptive to other readers), and not breaking down your spot and leaving before the host/organizer of the venue has given the okay to do so.

It’s important to remember that when we are reading for others, we don’t just have an obligation to our clients, but also to our profession. Let’s take every opportunity to make those first and lasting impressions of what we do be great ones!

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