Thursday, 8 April 2010

Suited & Booted

I have two suits. I have a kilt. I can enjoy wearing smart clothes.

However, in a recent conversation with a colleague, it was stated (not by me) that photos of team members provided to our customers would've looked better if all the guys had been wearing a suit.

"They would have looked more professional".

Oh really?

I disagreed. Why? Well, I think you can wear the suit, but be the least professional person in the room.

It might mean you look the part, but that's not enough.

In an age when conversation & relationships are what matter in customer service, I think authenticity and relevance are the true measure of professionalism. I think they fly in the face of (or at least challenge the insistance of) the "stiff upper lip".

I put this out on Twitter & Facebook yesterday:

"does being suited & booted for an existing customer make you look more *professional* but less personable?"

A few people responded:

"You can look professional and still BE personable. :-)" Theresa Seeber
True, but the suit doesn't mean you are either.
"Personable is in the character not the clothes" Colin Hilditch
Oh yeah!

Maybe it's just me, but I think a suit can be a veil that is hidden behind.

A crutch that is leaned on.

Sure, the first time you meet someone, you want to create a good impression, but perhaps the way we meet someone for the first time has changed - we look each other up on a search engine or check out a social network profile. That makes things different - and it all the more important for those involved in meeting customers to be aware of what can be found online.

I'd rather have a trusted supplier who I got to know to a deeper level than just the guy with the suit & tie from X Company.

Maybe this change is still happening and the old way is still the norm?

I wonder if the soon, when we call an engineer or plumber if the supplier will send you a link to the engineers profile before they arrive - so you know what they're like (and look like!).

What's your view?


David Stewart said...

Steve Jobs doesn't wear a suit! Seriously though, it has become quite fashionable not to wear a suit. It makes a statement about you - especially in Steve's line of work - that you aren't geeky or nerdish (not that everyone who wears a suit is nerdish... erm, hole getting deeper...) I met three networking worship leaders at a seminar a wee while back and I spoke to two of them. The other guy was wearing a suit and had a clipboard. Did that put me off? Yes actually it did. I'm not anti-suit (although it's true that I don't own one) but I agree with you Andy. I think times have changed and I appreciate people who look "real". For me that creates a feeling of trust and honesty, as opposed to the car salesman look - which one might not associate with these virtues! But hey, a suit looks smart and I've no big problem with people wearing them. Just don't look down on me because I don't.

Anonymous said...

Like I said on Twitter, "You can look professional and still BE personable."

In an age when suits are no longer standard professional attire in most fields, I think we have been forced to evolve, so to speak, to being professional individuals rather than professional-looking individuals. It takes more effort to make the professional impression when you are dressed-down, so to speak. That's a good thing. It makes us evaluate and refine who we are, rather than allow us to hide behind what we wear. :-)

I had the impression from your original tweet that you didn't WANT to look professional if looking professional meant wearing a suit, because the suit was just over the top in your opinion. I felt a compromise might be in order if you were in a situation in which you had to wear the suit, regardless of how you felt about it. So I offered up the possibility that you could look old-fashioned-professional (which was more devoid of personableness)and still be genuinely personable.

I think you should just do what a lot of my fellow Americans do when they are of Irish or Scottish ancestry. When the men get married they wear a suit and tie or tux from the waist up, and a kilt, knee high socks, (no undies LOL) and the rest from the waist down.

See how your clients like that. ;-)

theWeir said...

Y'know, I do enjoy wearing a suit now and again.

However, it was the assumption that when you see someone in a suit they look more professional.

I'm with David.

It's about expectations!

Also, it's interesting Theresa thought I meant something different.

Note to self: be careful how you phrase things!

Thanks for your view tho, people.

Always welcome.

Grace & Peace,