Conversations with Leonie: Presenting Yourself to the World
My name is Tammie. I am studying as a mature aged student and working at the same time. I am applying for better jobs and whilst I can normally get the interview, I obviously don’t do well in the real time tests or they just don’t like me and always get a thanks but no thanks.
I asked for feedback a couple of times and was told that I didn’t ‘Fit in’ or was out performed by other candidates and one woman told me that I needed to look more polished as I would have been very visible to the public.
I do lack confidence and I find putting outfits together very hard as I am on a budget as all students are. I don’t see how dressing up can make any difference at all. I am clean and tidy and always iron clothes and so on.
My brother says clothes make the person but really this stick in my throat because I am the person who ‘shows up’ in every way. I am a hard worker, I don’t take sickies, I arrive early and stay late.
My brother is a pharmacist and he tells me that clothes can make people respect you more and can he says help you do better in practical tasks and tests. I don’t want to spend heaps on a makeover to get the approval of others.
So, I read your articles all the time and I’m asking you. Can this really be true? Can clothes and a makeover really help me get a good job?
Thanks for your column
My answer is a resounding yes. Firstly, if you dress well people treat you better. This is not some great and new astounding news. It’s always been the case. Power dressing is nothing new. Successful people know that you need to look like you are an achiever even before you achieve anything. There is also strong evidence that the way you groom yourself and how you dress can affect whether people listen to anything you have to say or if they treat your thoughts and opinions dismissively.
Research carried out at the National Research Council of Canada resulted in clear evidence that how we present ourselves strongly dictates how others interpret our trustworthiness, our IQ, or financial position and whether we should be advanced in our chosen vocations.
As you are a student, it is also worth sharing with you some surprising news about how our choice of clothes can affect how we do on tests. The New York Times coined this behavour “Enclothed Cognition” In this study about paying attention, they gave examinees a white coat to wear and told them that it was a painter’s coat. The test group who wore what they thought was a painter’s coat demonstrated an improvement that was slight at best. They then gave the same group an identical white coat and told them it was a doctor’s coat and all participants did markedly better on the test. This test also looked at whether it was the presence of the white coat that made the improvement in performance or if the students had to be wearing the white coat, and the research found that the students had to be wearing the white coat. So, the clothes must be worn, and the subject must have an understanding of what the coat represents. I.e. Painter or Doctors coat. I haven’t found one single article on why we humans can perform better just by changing our perception, but I can find plenty of evidence that definitely does.
Additionally, there is strong evidence that how we dress, affects or confidence and our attitude. So, I would encourage you to listen to your brother. I would never encourage you to be phoney, put on an act or change who you are but I feel that if you want to be successful, you would benefit from thinking about your audience which is who you are meeting, the occasion you are attending and what the culture of the firm or organisation is.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to look good. Opportunity shops are very aware of only stocking clothes that are in good condition and we have some great ones here on the Peninsula. People don’t just discard clothes because they are ruined or out of fashion. Often, it’s because they no longer fit or they have acquired new purchases and want a change.
I hope this has given you food for thought.
Til next week
Counsellor | Author | Columnist | Radio Commentator | Trainer | Mediator
Leonie is a Qualified Counsellor, Trainer, Mediator and Early childhood Educator who is also a Justice of the Peace.
Specialising in Relationship Counselling, Personal Counselling and Employment Coaching.
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