I recently came across Alexis Grewan’s four-part series, which was posted between November 2021 and January 2022. This post will add my contribution as a follow-on to Alexis’ excellent series. For those who missed her posts, here are the links:





What does it mean to be professional?

I often wonder these days if many people have forgotten about professionalism, what it means to belong to a professional organisation, and how to behave professionally. We see good examples of what I mean in the way professional people address one another in emails, on PEGforum, and in the disrespect shown to webinar presenters.

The golden rule

In my opinion, professionalism is all about the golden rule that Chuck Berry sang about in his song ‘School Days’, in which he sings the line ‘teacher is teachin’ the golden rule’. So what is the golden rule? It is all about respect and the principle of treating others as one would expect to be treated. This golden rule can be found in all the major religions, as illustrated in the following table:

Religion What is their Golden Rule? Attributed to
Buddhism Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udanavarga 5:18
Baha’i Faith Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself. Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings
Christianity In everything you do, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Jesus, Matthew 7:12
Confucianism One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct … loving kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. Confucius, Analects 15.23
Hinduism This is the sum of duty. Do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you. Mahabharata 5:1517
Islam Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others that which you wish for yourself. The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith
Jainism In happiness and sorrow, in joy and in pain, we should consider every creature as we consider ourselves. Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara
Judaism That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow! This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a
Native Spirituality We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive. Chief Dan George
Sikhism I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all. Guru Granth Sahib, pg. 1299
Taoism Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss. T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien, 213-218
Unitarianism We affirm and promote seven Principles, which we hold as strong values and moral guides. We live out these Principles. Unitarian Principle
Zoroastrianism Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself. Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29

Source: Scarboro Missions: Golden Rule Poster

They all preach much the same thing, yet many people choose to ignore this basic rule when dealing with others. Even if one has no affiliation to any of the above, the golden rule would have been taught to them somewhere along the way.

Professional code of conduct

Under our very noses, the ‘P’ in ‘PEG’ stands for ‘Professional’, and to back that up, PEG has an excellent code of conduct, which you will find here: https://editors.org.za/wp-content/uploads/PEG-Code-of-Conduct.pdf

Most professional organisations have a code of conduct for their members to follow and adhere to, and they are all based on behaving as professionals in all our dealings with other human beings. As individuals, we can aspire to be more professional in our conduct, behaviour and attitude. Professionalism leads to workplace success, a strong professional reputation and a high level of work ethic and excellence. Some guiding values to help achieve this are captured below:

Value What to strive for



Follow policies and rules.

Continually seek to adhere to the rules and regulations.

Be familiar with PEG’s Code of Conduct.







Respect others in whatever you say, whether spoken or written.

Portfolio holders should practise good etiquette, for example, when  not available, to place an ‘out of office’ notification on their email.

Consider whether it is necessary to ‘reply to all’ on forum posts.

During group sessions, consider whether your private conversation with others is necessary.

Demonstrate patience by allowing others to complete what they are saying.

Team asset


Seek opportunities to contribute positively to the team.

Support other team members.






Follow through on commitments you’ve made.

Offer support or help when it’s needed.

Meet objectives.

Complete tasks that you take on.

Ensure that you’re performing to the best of your abilities.




Take responsibility for your actions and conduct.

Being accountable for your actions and conduct demonstrates more than one core value. You’re demonstrating your honesty, adaptability, responsibility and a positive attitude, especially when you seek feedback and input that helps you to improve.






Integrity, which means being trustworthy and committed to carrying out your duties, helps to build positive and supportive relationships.

Show that you are dependable and honest in your interactions, communications and relationships with others.

Avoid airing ‘dirty laundry’ in public.

Avoid attacking others in public.





An aspect of integrity, honesty helps you to form a strong foundation of professional values.

Being honest and open in your communications with your colleagues will ensure that you are referred to for answers, help or input.

Being honest will demonstrate your trustworthiness, which is important for building strong relationships.

Empathy Practise active listening and hear what is being communicated.


Feature image: http://wordsift.org/

Contributor photo: supplied by author

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About Mike Leisegang

I have been a professional project manager since 1995. My career in the corporate world was mostly in information technology in the banking sector. My experience in editing extends far back into my project management career, where I edited and proofread project documents and presentations prior to them being published. I was also requested to proofread two project management textbooks for Rory Burke, the renowned project management lecturer and author. From 2001, I was a project management trainer and facilitator.

In 2020, I changed my career to a copy-editor and proofreader, as this is where my passion lies: in helping others to correctly express themselves in their documents such as presentations, dissertations, and any other published documents. I formalised my copy-editing and proofreading skills in 2020 through Russell de la Porte’s Academy. As a copy-editor and proofreader, I work mostly in the academic world, on theses and dissertations for many tertiary education institutions. Additionally, I have edited several books, magazine articles, and medical trial validations.

I live with my wife of 42 years in beautiful Howick, KwaZulu Natal. In my spare time, I tinker with my vintage car, a 1930 Model A Ford, which is a pleasure to drive in the KZN midlands.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.