Excactly 24 years ago, when I was working part-time at the Sunglass Hut in Toronto, Canada, the MANAGEMENT decided it was time to teach its hundreds of employees what their new "business casual" dress code REALLY meant.
They sent every store very, very thick manuals (kalın yasaklar/yapılacaklar klasörleri) featuring color combinations, suggested outfits (tavsiye edilen kıyafetler) and a long list of do's and don'ts.
Needless to say, WE THE EMPLOYEES, were outraged (çok sinirlendik). During coffee breaks we would angrily discuss how George Orwellian (1984) it all was.
Why were they trying to control us? Why were they infringing on our individual rights (bireysel haklarımızı çiğnemek)?
We were distraught (çok kırılmış, sinirlenmiş). Those who were able to adapt (uyum sağlayabilen), stayed on (işine devam etti). Those who were unable to adapt, left or were asked to leave.
I, being the adaptable, generally practical person that I am, found myself at the GAP and Banana Republic spending my hard-earned 3.45 dollars an hour on neutral colored, simple, plain but professional looking clothes.
Years later as General Manager of an NGO in Turkey, I found myself trying to spread the "business casual" spirit in the name of professionalisation (kurumsallaşma) both within our organization and the sector in general.
It was not an easy feat (marifet). People hated the new dress code and most of all they hated me for being the messenger. It was a new world for the NGO sector...a world which prioritised "looking professional" and "being professional" over individual style and as they put it "passion for their work".
I didn't invent "business casual" dressing. I was not the one who made it a la mode in Turkey. And now, I am yet again the messenger so, please don't shoot me.
Over three decades of working in various sectors, I have seen that the better you dress, the more professional you look, the more seriously people take you. PERIOD.
To be honest, it wasn't that difficult for me because I have always tried to dress simply, to dress well and to balance my personal taste with what is deemed acceptable and professional by customers, co-workers and THE MANAGEMENT.
I love neutral colors and simple, classic clothes for several reasons:
1) It generally looks good, calm, balanced, classy;
2) It looks professional;
3) It looks appropriate for any situation (boardroom meeting or customer visit);
4) It is neither too feminine nor masculine, neither too fancy nor casual;
4) It is more economical and practical and much easier to get dressed in the morning;
5) It has lots of room to be accessorized and personalized with good scarves, jewellery, bags, watches and shoes.
I went online and took a look at what was available mid-season and on sale to start building your business casual wardrobe. Read on to find out what I recommend that you buy from the GAP, Banana Republic and Mango to achieve this super powerful and super easy "business casual" look.
lHere is my gift to you...the gift of concise knowledge (az öz bilgi). If this is the only thing you ever read on how to be persuasive and charismatic while presenting something on stage or while at a meeting or while leading a team...I PROMISE YOU IT WILL BE MORE THAN ENOUGH.
All of these suggestions seem super easy to do. Some are, some aren't. Doing them all at once while making them your own is difficult but, ABSOLUTELY DO-ABLE.
Mastering the art of always being aware of your body, thoughts and feelings is difficult to do. It is even more difficult to do when you are "on stage" during a presentation, interview, sales pitch or speech.
The good news is that these are all things that you can learn. There is no special "public speaking and persuasion" gene.
First you need to become aware of what works and why. Then you need to understand what you are doing that works and what you are doing that might be detracting from your stage or executive presence (sahne/liderlik gücünüzü azaltan, zayıflatan faktörler). Finally, you need to develop your own personal communication style, your OWN charismatic presence.
This should be a style that doesn't completely ignore any of the important "communication rules" BUT, it should be a style that works for you and your own personal style, culture and context (bağlam/durum).
All of this takes some intellectual work...reading, research PLUS some interpersonal work...internalization through practice and feedback (geri bildirim ve pratik ile içselleştirme). Use a coach, a mentor, a colleague, a friend, a mirror or your iphone to see what you look like when communicating.
Go ahead splurge (keseyi aç)...print these pages on some good quality paper IN COLOR and hang them up where you can see them so that you can remember these tips everyday in all important communicative situations (önemli iletişim anları/alanları).
Contact ETUDIST today for more information about private and corporate public speaking and executive presence training and consulting services.
Derya Akalın Uysal, founder of Etudist Training & Consulting.