I’m going to share something with you today that has nothing to do with a Friday Find. You’ll thank me for saying this, trust me. One of my mentors shared this with me and I’ve never forgotten this invaluable lesson. Here it is: When sending an email communication, don’t give people a direct order. Yes, you may be asking your direct report, colleague or contractor to do something for you – maybe in a timely manner. Guess what? Asking someone to do something in this manner doesn’t come across positively. It’s a turn off. Great leaders, like my mentor, understand that you can be direct, and ask people to do something, without coming across negatively. It’s a very subtle thing but highly impactful. Here’s an example of what I mean: Please send me that file before lunch today vs. It would be great if you could send me that file before lunch today Can you feel the difference? Amazing leaders ask for things this way. There’s no need to be a bossy boots in order to get your message across to others. The second sentence is authoritative, assertive and direct but doesn’t have the same negative vibe that the first sentence does. Get it? (from: writingourselveswhole.org) Two things to remember: It’s not just what you say but how you say it. This is especially when it comes to written communication where tone is hard to interpret. People always want to do a good job. Ask them nicely – and directly – for what you need or want from them. You’ll build a much stronger coalition if you’re not perceived as a bossy person. Put this into practice right away. You’ll be better off for it. Happy Friday!
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, especially after reading this Huffington Post article featuring Tim Gunn. He is someone I truly admire who has a positive voice in the world of style and fashion. In the article, he said: “When I’m working in the real world with real women and we’re shopping, we find that fashion seems to end when you get any larger than a size 12. How ridiculous is that?” Ummm… totally ridiculous actually. Unfortunately, it’s true. As a style consultant, I too work with real women. Women who are tall, petite and plus-size. I work with those who have short torsos, long torsos, big hips, small hips large chests, no chests… you get the point. We are all different. When it comes to plus-size people, I can appreciate the challenges faced when it comes to finding garments that fit properly. I have to say, I’m extremely disappointed when I walk into a plus-size store or plus-size section of a department store to see what’s available for my clients. I’d equate my sentiment to what Tim Gunn said in the article: “Go to Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, I think it’s the eighth floor, and it’s just a department called ‘Woman.’ It’s rather devastating. You’ve never seen such hideous clothes in your entire life. I mean, it’s simply appalling. Thank God there are no windows on that floor, because if I were a size 18, I’d throw myself right out the window [after seeing those clothes]. It’s insulting what these designers do to these women.” When I was worked full time as a management consultant, I worked on a project for the Canadian Obesity Network (CON). I was so interested in this organization that I subscribed to their magazine. In the first issue that I received, I found this article (you’ll have to go to pg. 12 to read it). Even though this article is from 2009, many of the points mentioned, about why retailers and designers don’t cater to plus size people, seem to remain true. Disappointing huh? Along the same vein, I saw this video a few months ago from Jimmy Kimmel Live. For those that haven’t seen it as yet, you must watch it. Though I bring up this video, I don’t think that all brands have to cater to all markets – that would be absurd. Abercrombie and Fitch has a marketing strategy for who they target and that’s perfectly fine. What is not fine though, were the comments made by the company’s CEO about the type of customer they wish to attract – and detract – from their retail locations (I believe these comments were made in 2006 but they went viral earlier this year). They were disappointing and extremely discriminatory. Look em up if you’re interested because I’m not posting that crap on my blog. My understanding is that sales aren’t so hot and the company’s shares are down… The Good News The good news, as I see it, is that the market for plus-size clothing is growing. People are demanding better quaility and more stylish, fashion forward options.
So, this post is a bit after the fact but I didn’t want to interrupt our guest blog series to bring you this “breaking news” (HA!). By now, some of you have read this story. If you haven’t, it’s an interesting read and you’ll surely have something to say when you have read it. I want to take this opportunity to share my opinion. As a business consultant who advises people and organizations on developing a positive professional presence, I feel that each of us should dress in a way that: Commands authority with staff and clients Provides a sense of approachability Inspires confidence in others I also believe that as business professionals, we need to make sure that we give our stakeholders every reason to see us as the credible experts that we are. So, with respect to Premier Clark, let me start by saying that I have no reason to believe that she lacks the essential leadership and decision-making skills to fulfill her role, and that I do believe that comments made about her attire were aimed at diminishing her credibility as a leader (not cool). Having said that, I also feel that cleavage should not be present in a conservative environment (like the provincial legislature). One of my main messages has always been that men and women need to understand and be aware of their body shape so that they can dress accordingly. This is true of both professional and casual settings. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean: A plus-sized man wears a pair of dress pants and dress shirt that are clearly too tight for him. In any work environment (casual or conservative-formal), overly form-fitting pants may be viewed as a distraction to others. When you can see a clear muffin top as well as ALL “features” below the belt-line, it looks unprofessional… not to mention uncomfortable and lacking in style. This is also not sending the right message to clients, that the individual takes time and effort to manage himself. In the eyes of many people, time and effort to manage yourself might equal time and effort to manage your client. You get the point… A tall, lean woman, who is well-endowed, is wearing a skirt that is about 5-6 inches above her knee and a fitted knit turtleneck sweater. If this person works in a formal work environment, her attire – while not too revealing – would probably be considered inappropriate. Again, this clothing choice would be distracting to others and would most definitely not send the right message. “Why does one need to show THAT much leg in a conservative work environment?” might be what some people would think. In both cases, these looks are equally unprofessional. Now, this brings us to a different point. Both examples above outline unprofessional attire but you’re probably thinking that the female in this example would get more flak or be viewed much more unfavourably than the man. And, unfortunately, you would