Rules 53: Dress up or down accordingly

Globacom’s Strong Man and Corporate Strategist, Otunba  Niyi Adewunmi 
We
talked earlier about always dressings elegantly, stylishly, smartly but what if
you go to work for that design company where they all wear jeans and a
T-shirt?  In your case, you will have to
wear jeans too. 

Just make sure your
jeans are the smartest, the most stylish, the most fashionable, the most modern
– no, no, you do not iron them, no creases, for God’s sake!

Watch
what the others do.  If, at a meeting, it
is jackets off and sleeves rolled up then that’s what you do.  If it is very formal and jackets stay on,
then yours stays on as well.  I know this
may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how often you look around a
meeting and you can see the one person marching to a different drum beat – and
that’s the one who will be ostracized by the others.

“Even if the
corporate culture is to dress casual you can still make an effort.  Unfortunately one of the things we British
don’t do well is dress casual. We have never had the weather to learn it
properly”. 

To
a greater or lesser extent, we all need to belong to the herd, to fit in, to
blend in, to camouflage ourselves so we don’t draw unnecessary attention to
ourselves.  Obviously, if it is the boss
who takes their jacket off then you too, do so. 
Don’t become a clone though and mindlessly follow what everyone else is
doing. We are talking here of dressing up or down on a general basis not each
and every minute.


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I’ve
always found it better to sit back for a moment or two to see what others do
rather than to be the first to follow the head lemming.  Stand back for a moment; it might be a cliff
and not a promotion opportunity; or a springboard with no water below.
I’ve
always found it useful to have a role model to check with to see if they would
have done a certain thing, or worn a certain style of dress.  For a lot of my business life I’ve used Cary
Grant
.  Easy then to ask, ‘Would Cary have worn this?’ If the
answer is yes, then go right ahead.  If
the answer is no, then don’t.  See how
easy this is. Try Humphrey Bogart, but in Casablanca rather than the African Queen.
Even
if the corporate culture is to dress casual you can still make an effort.  Unfortunately one of the things we British don’t do well is dress casual.
We have never had the weather to learn it properly.  We can’t do shorts or T-shirts, Hawaiian shirts
or sarongs.  We do, however, do smart extremely well.
 
(Excerpts from THE
RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to be adaptable in your dealings with different people” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)
















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