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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » Blog Archive » Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak: The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible

Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak: The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible

None of us are supposed to “judge a book by its cover”…but we do.
All the time.

Most people understand the importance of doing good work, having a great attitude, being a team player and being punctual.
However, many smart employees miss the opportunity to score even more points by managing their “observable peripherals”.

So, go ahead. Ask away. Don’t be shy.

What the heck is an observable peripheral?

It’s all of the little and subtle cues that cause someone to form an impression about you.

Here are some examples and suggestions that will make a significant difference in what others think about you:

  • You see that leaky 19 cent pen in your hand? Throw it out. Right now. Go buy a nice Waterman (or something similar), with weight, and use that from now on. A serious pen means you are a serious worker.
  • Taking notes in one of your daughter’s 4th grade Composition books is equally unimpressive. Dump it and go get a leather binder that allows you to use 8 1/2 X 11 or X 14 note pads. Jotting down today’s meeting assignments on the back of your Wendy’s receipt isn’t going to get anyone to take you seriously.
  • Upgrade that disgusting watch with the dried paint chips on it, to something elegant and attractive.
  • Stop wearing that Disney sweatshirt into the office. We see you wearing it as you come through the door and can only suppress the laughter some of the time.
    (If you dress like a joke, you will be treated like one).
  • Sorry to tell you this one…but that tie that your wife/daughter gave you with “Sponge Bob” on it is ridiculous. You are not a cartoon character (and your crabby pattys don’t taste so great either).
  • Your shoes always need to be shined and clean.
  • Your glasses cannot have any kind of tape holding them together.
  • Kiss that pocket protector goodbye.
  • Men, please put collar stays in your shirts and always button the top button if you are wearing a tie.
  • Ladies, regardless of our fantasies, please do not show us your bellybutton or wear any garment that has a phrase more appropriate for a strip club than an office (”Sexy,” “Man killer’,” “Good In Bed”). You get the idea.
  • Wearing your college ring beyond the age of 30 screams “loser” to the rest of us…even if it was an Ivy league school.
  • Get rid of that uni-brow.
  • Use perfume or cologne sparingly. If I can smell you on the Interstate, you may have put a tad too much on.
  • Never leave uneaten/open bags of food/candy on your desk.
  • Never wear the same outfit in the same week. If we see that blouse one more time, we are going to puke.
  • If you borrow money for the soda machine, pay it back the next morning. We will remember.
  • We are watching and observing you from the moment you park to the moment you leave (and yes, we did note that you took more than an hour for lunch).
  • Assume that we are all looking into your car when we walk by it (we loved spying that DVD of “Teenage Love Vixens” in the backseat, right next to the empty Coors 24 pack and 1500 of your scattered business receipts).
  • Use your “indoor voice” when taking a call on your cell phone.
  • Never be the last one to walk into a meeting or the first one to leave.
  • Today’s Tip: Before you have even opened your mouth, we have all formed an impression of you. Make it a good one. Crappy, dirty and cheap accessories (as well as childish behavior) will persuade us that that’s who you really are. Dazzle us, impress us, wow us.
    We will pay that much more attention to you when you speak.

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