Appearances Matter in Business: 4 Ways to Be More Confident at Work
We all try to live by the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But sometimes the brain has its own agenda.
Research shows that appearances affect how others view a person's financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence and hiring or promoting potential. Basically, we do judge books by their covers – whether we realize it or not.
With limited information available, people tend to rely on first impressions to form judgment, which takes a matter of seconds. Your appearance shapes who you are in the minds of others, and those perceptions can influence your career advancement as a result.
The Driving Factors of Appearance
While competency comes first, appearance matters in business (and we’re not talking physical attributes.) Clothing and self-confidence play powerful roles in how others perceive you.
According to author and communication expert Darlene Price, “Especially in the workplace, clothing significantly influences how others perceive you and how they respond toward you."
Looking nice shows you pay attention to detail and you can represent the company well when facing potential clients or hopeful employees. It makes you feel good, too, which provides its own confidence boost. And armed with the right skill sets and a healthy dose of self-assurance, the C-suite will want you on the frontlines convincing potential clients and employees to work with the company.
According to Price, great communication skills paired with the right attire can also influence others' likelihood to comply with your request, trust you with information, grant you access to decision makers, pay you a certain salary, hire you or purchase your products and services. If you want to win the business, you have to look - and sound - the part.
Improve Your Professional Appearance & Confidence Level
An aura of confidence can mean the difference between a clear trajectory up the corporate ladder and an unfulfilling career path.
According to a study by the University of Melbourne, self-confidence is a key determinant of workplace success. However, there are some simple steps you can take to feel more confident in your appearance at work – and proactively & positively influence your career.
1. Dress for culture & confidence
When you feel good about your image, it really does show. And that added confidence can fuel your professional agenda. Whether your company dress code is strictly business casual or PJ-friendly, wear clothes that fit you well or that make you feel comfortable and assured (while staying within the confines of the dress code).
2. Rate yourself fairly but positively
Multiple studies by University of Florida professor Timothy Judge found that people with high core self evaluations had increased levels of job satisfaction, better job performance, higher income, higher work motivation and reduced stress and burnout.
Surely, you shouldn’t lie on a performance review. But by regularly logging your successes and consciously working to reverse your weaknesses, you can more comfortably highlight your success in reviews, which will fuel your confidence.
3. Speak up
If you appear unsure of yourself, why would others trust you?
As Lois Frankel, Ph.D. & president of Corporate Coaching International puts it, many people with low self-esteem shy away from the spotlight and avoid attention, which can overshadow their competencies and slow their career goals. Unfortunately, people often assume those with low self-esteem are less intelligent, though that’s not the case.
Overcoming modesty can be tricky. Start by making small efforts to speak your mind in meetings or other work situations. Journaling your ideas and garnering feedback beforehand will also make you more comfortable and assured when pitching them.
4. Eliminate the fear of stress sweat
Sweating profusely through your dress shirt tells others you’re nervous and can distract from the goal at hand: to win new business or the approval of your boss. The smell of stress sweat can also lessen others’ perception of you in terms of competence, confidence and trustworthiness, according to research by the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.
As a hyperhidrosis sufferer, I know the feeling all too well. Before starting Thompson Tee, I constantly worried about sweat marks showing through my dress shirts, and it took a huge toll on my self-confidence as a salesman. And in that field, confidence is everything. After developing and religiously wearing a sweat proof Thompson Tee under my suits, I stopped worrying, let alone thinking, about my problem, and my confidence naturally shot up.
Beyond competence, clothing and confidence are powerful influencers of professional success that many people don’t consider.
What steps do you take to appear more confident at work?