Personal Grooming Guide for the Professional World
by Peggy Noe Stevens
Do you remember some people by their perfume? By the state of their fingernails? By their hairstyle? Of course you do. In return, your personal grooming habits affect the senses of everyone you meet: their sight, smell, touch, and hearing, all except perhaps taste (unless you happen to travel to a truly strange part of the world). Your personal grooming—your appearance— is perhaps the most important factor in making a good first impression, and as I have mentioned previously, creating positive first impressions is one key to building a successful brand.
Hair – Both men and women need to keep their hair neat and trimmed while in the workplace. The length and cut do not matter as much as the cleanliness and overall appearance of the hair. Remember, too, that extreme hairstyles and even gestures such as constantly pushing your hair back from your eyes may have a negative impact on your brand, because they become distractions to the viewer.
Facial hair – As we’ve established, eyes are the windows to the soul, and eye contact is a crucial element of conversation. Eyebrows frame that important piece. For women, waxing, shaping, or filling in your eyebrows to give balance to your face is a useful way to improve your look. Likewise, facial hair for men—whether it’s a mustache, beard, or goatee—should be kept in shape.
Perfume/cologne – Have you ever hugged someone and found that, an hour later, you could still smell the person? Whether you find cologne or perfume delightful or not so much, know how to wear it in a business setting. Apply to the upper arms (not the wrists) so you avoid leaving your mark during a handshake. Another safe spot is your chest (not your neck or face). Not sure if you’ve overdone it? If possible, ask someone in your home to do the smell test before you leave for work.
Hand washing – It is very important to keep your hands and nails clean, not only for the sake of appearance but also to avoid spreading germs in the workplace. When you have a cold (or you know that someone else does), you may refrain from shaking hands by saying, “Excuse me, but I’ve been under the weather. Please forgive me for not shaking your hand.” People actually appreciate this.
Mental walk-through – As you consider your appearance, be aware of how others see you. The following chart provides a critical list of cues to check when it comes to your personal appearance and how others perceive you. Use this helpful list before you walk out the door to begin your day.
Rest – Most people require seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep affects your patience level and alertness; you’re more likely to become sharp or cross when you are tired. But that’s not all. We all have seen how lack of sleep can physically affect your appearance: peaked skin, puffy eyes with dark circles. Cumulatively for the week, you want to target a certain number of hours of sleep according to your body clock and what works for you. Always try to reach that balance by the end of the week.