July 23, 2012
Business dress, personal grooming, body language, and attitude are components of a person’s professional appearance. These things can serve as forms of nonverbal communication and send messages to others about an individual. Before a person ever speaks a word, typically others around them can make judgments and form opinions based on the subtle messages provided by that person’s appearance. These components largely influence how well an individual is received and how well their message in heard. They can also affect ongoing things like job performance and financial compensation. I researched how these components of professional appearance can affect an individual in the business environment. In this paper, I provided examples of some factors that are considered in a person’s professional appearance in detail. Also, I provided some general guidelines to follow to present a proper professional appearance. Finally, I outlined some examples of how these things can serve to help or harm an individual in the workplace. Keywords: nonverbal communication, business attire, hygiene, body language, attitude.
Components of Professional Appearance
“First impressions are often lasting impressions; research shows that 55 percent of this first impression is based on appearance” (Chaney & Martin, 2007). Opinions can be formed before any verbal communication is ever made. Considering this, professional appearance is an important factor in how a person is perceived and how well they are received in the business world. It can also impact how well an individual performs and how long they are able to maintain a presence in that environment. Professional appearance includes a person’s business dress, personal grooming, body language, and attitude. How does professional appearance affect you in the business world? Consider the following situation. You have two candidates for a sales position that you are going to interview. Both have very similar work experience, educational backgrounds, and seem similarly qualified. The first applicant shows up early for the interview. He is conservatively dressed in a stylish black suit. His overall appearance is pleasant as he is well groomed. He shows up ten minutes early and stands patiently waiting in the lobby for his interview. He appears relaxed, confident, and prepared. As you meet he gives you a firm handshake and courteous smile. The second applicant shows up for the interview right on time. He is dressed in a trendy suit with a brightly colored shirt and bold tie. His hair is slightly messy and his cologne is a bit strong. He sits in the lobby tapping his feet as he waits. When you approach him to introduce yourself, he shakes your hand quickly. You notice that he struggles to keep eye contact with you. Considering this scenario, without knowing anything about how either interview went, who would you think would be more inclined to be seriously considered for the job? Which person made the better first impression before any words were spoken? Who do you think would be more likely to get called back for a second interview? Attire, personal grooming, body language, and attitude all impact professional appearance. Clean, neatly pressed clothing shows that a person is mindful of their appearance. Conservative clothing minimizes distractions from the message an individual is trying to communicate to their audience. Care in personal grooming and hygiene can either draw people toward someone and keep an audience engaged or cause them to lose focus. In regards to a person’s personal grooming, messy hair, excessive makeup, and/or poor hygiene can draw attention toward these negatives and turn an audience off. In the same way body language can have a similar impact. For example, poor posture, fidgeting, and lack of eye contact can negatively affect appearance whereas good posture, calm...