Approachability

I’ve never had a job that required I wear a suit unless you count the two years I spent in Germany as a missionary. I had to wear a suit, white shirt and tie each day regardless of the weather.

I didn’t like the dress code back then and never got used to it. ties

By the time I was released, I was so tired of wearing a suit I vowed I’d never take a job that required I wear one each day.

So far so good.

My first job out of college had a firm business casual dress code. My current job has the same but is more flexible. I can occasionally wear jeans and mock turtlenecks without being sent home.

I think back to my days as a missionary and remember how much more approachable I was when I wasn’t wearing a suit, tie and name badge. When all decked out in dark suit, many Germans assumed I was selling something, and wouldn’t converse. But on our preparation day I wore jeans and a t-shirt and fit into the landscape. I was a lot more approachable which made sharing my message a lot easier. There were times when I taught more people on preparation day than the rest of the week days combined.

I know that serving a mission and working in an office are two entirely different activities. But I wonder if some of the same walls I built as a missionary show up in the office?

Why would any of my far more relaxed technicians want to talk to a guy sitting behind a desk wearing slacks and a tie? I know I wouldn’t.

I’m much more likely to hear from my crew if I spend time playing basketball with them as opposed to sitting in my office in nicely pressed business casual attire all day.

Does it matter how much time I spent polishing my shoes, ironing my shirts and pressing my pants if I don’t hear how my team is doing and connect with them on their terms?

How approachable are you?

Photo by Geekgirly

2 thoughts on “Approachability

  1. Everyone is different and in different areas. I am pretty sure if our company banker came to a meeting in jeans that would be the last time we ever met with him. Typically I have found you have to dress the part. If your customers are Business casual and you show up in a suit or jeans your dress will count against you. I have customers I meet that I know I have to wear the jacket for them to be comfortable, others would think I was overkill for them.One of my first calls was on Spike and Mikes Videos. The Sales Rep and I showed up in black suites with dark ties. We walked through the door and everyone was either sitting on bean bags or cross legged on the floor. The owner looked up and said are you from the FBI?That was a good lesson on not being approachable but I have probably had far more from underdressing and having a major customer just show up. I could tell being in jeans while they stood there in slacks and wanted to talk about a major piece of work was a problem.Dress for the moment.

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  2. On the other side of the coin, my boss could be dressed in Bermudas and may not be approachable at times. I think, to a certain extent, I think approachability comes from within.

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