Professionals—and people in general— avoid confrontation like the plague. We live in a society that accepts, and even encourages, small social lies. When a co-worker asks, “How are you doing?” They rarely want the entire rundown of triumphs and ills. Instead, she expects a reply of, “Fine. How are you?”
While the example above does not appear especially dangerous, people around us, engaging in small social lies or lacking the ability to give much-needed constructive criticism, can contribute to the stagnation of our professional careers by not sharing obvious mistakes everyone else notices.
Your Dress Is Inappropriate, Outdated or Sloppy
According to Branding Expert, Karen McCullough, “Women are more sensitive about their appearance and even their skills and talents than men. If I tell a man to get a better suit, no pleat pants, and a black cashmere jacket, he is off to the store and making the changes. Women are not as easy to work with. I do see a defensive wall I do not see with men. Women take things very personally and image and dress are more difficult to discuss.”
While Human Resources will inform you if your clothing undermines company policy, you’re not likely to receive hints about investing in a tailor or a style refresh. A University of British Columbia study found that people are better able to identify the personality traits of people they find attractive than those they do not. In other words, you could be overlooked for opportunities you’re qualified for simply because people can not look past your dress!
Tips for Encouraging Constructive Feedback About Dress
- Do not react negatively when people give you constructive criticism about your personal brand. Doing so discourages honesty.
- Ask your supervisor, manager or trusted peers for suggestions on how you can improve your appearance. Explain you prefer actionable suggestions over validation.
- Enlist a professional image consultant. The Association of Image Consultants International offers a searchable directory.
You Have A Bad Attitude
We all know someone extremely adept at his job, who exceeds expectations but is constantly complaining. Who is going to risk upsetting the goose that lays to golden eggs? No one—that’s who. However, management may be hesitant to promote David the Downer and customers/peers may not feel comfortable referring him to others.
Tips for Soliciting Feedback About Your Attitude
- Thank individuals who currently provide constructive criticism. It doesn’t mean you agree, but you should consider their points.
- Ask your manager and HR if there are any personality traits you should work on developing in order to advance in the company.
- Use an anonymous online poll tool to solicit feedback and suggestions.