Business Courtesy Or Insecurity
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 8, 2013
I hate looking at myself in the mirror; just one of those things I suppose. Where this gets problematic is when I have to put on business clothing, whether it’s in the morning or not, and I haven’t noticed that something is amiss.
Recently my issue has been in not remembering which of my shirts have buttons up near my collar where I can button them down or not. You’d think that would be easy to remember but I’m not a morning person. For me, it’s a miracle that I can even remember to button my shirt up normally.
What happens of course is that the first time I end up going to the bathroom when I’m away from home I’ll look into a mirror because it’s now later in the day and I’m more alert, and see that I haven’t buttoned down my collar, which explains why it’s been flopping up all over the place. I’m slightly embarrassed because I know other people have seen it like that, but I get over it quickly enough.
What I’m wondering about is those other people. I can understand someone who doesn’t know me not saying anything, but if you know me and see something amiss, why won’t you say anything about it? Are you even paying attention to me or are you afraid to stir up trouble?
That’s a tough question to answer because of the times we’re living in. When I was an every day director I had only women working for me. I learned that in order to get through my days all the time that I had to stop noticing what some of the women were wearing. Some looked really good, some didn’t look all that good, and there were dress code issues that had to be dealt with. I took the easy road; I appointed a female supervisor who always dressed appropriately to be the “clothes police” and moved on with life.
However, I’ve also realized that when something is amiss, no matter how much you try not to notice something it’s screaming for your attention. Because of that, I knew when a skirt might be hiked up, or when something had messed up a blouse or shirt that someone was wearing. The art of ignoring the “out of place” is one I’ve never quite gotten right.
What did I do in those circumstances? I told the person what was wrong. I didn’t laugh and I didn’t tell everyone, just that person when I could. And it was always appreciated, even if they were embarrassed, because they knew I was trying to help them save themselves from more embarrassment from their co-workers, who had to have noticed something was wrong if I did; I’m not known as being Mr. Observant all that often.
This begs the question of whether not telling someone that something isn’t quite right being business courteous or being insecure with one’s own comfort level. You’d think this was an easy one to answer until you consider my next little story.
In this one, I was out at brunch in a hotel years ago with my wife. This woman came in with her husband in this black dress with a large white sticker plastered on her behind. It was obvious that it was a new dress, and it stood out easily. I wanted to go say something to the woman but my wife stopped me saying it would look like I was staring at her behind. I said it couldn’t be missed but my wife was firm. So I asked if she’d do it and she said it wasn’t any of her business. This was maybe 13 years ago; you can tell I’m still bothered by this.
Is there one totally right answer in this regard? I can’t honestly say. I can say this though; when I’m by myself, if I see something out of place I always mention it. I’ve never had a single person be upset because I pointed something out that they didn’t know about. Every person has always thanked me; that’s a pretty good percentage I think.
Still, I know there are probably circumstances where this might not be wise. That’s why I can’t say that my way is the way for everyone. However, I do believe that the majority of people want to know if their zipper is open or their shirt is buttoned up incorrectly or buttons have popped open exposing more flesh than they’d like.
If you agree or disagree, let me know below.