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Receptionist Almost Too Well Dresses for Office Role
Q: This is an unusual problem. I am the office manager for a medical clinic. I hired a 21-year-old woman to be our receptionist. All she needs to do is answer phones, greet patients and make appointments. She seemed mature for her age and dressed in a professional type of suit, which was a plus in the interview. She was concerned about clothing and did say that she did not want to wear a uniform because she did not want to be mistaken for a nurse or medical professional. I thought that request sounded reasonable. In fact, it makes perfect sense to me that in such a setting, a receptionist does not want to have to explain to everyone that she is not qualified to physically help someone if a need arises. I told her as long as she dressed professionally, that would be fine. She has performed beautifully in the job. The problem isn't that she dresses slovenly, but rather quite the opposite. This young woman spends all her money on clothing and dresses like a model in a magazine. She is attractive so she wears the clothing well, but the style is so expensive and high fashion, that it is distracting to all. Everyone who walks in "ooohs" and "aaahs" over everything she wears. How do I tell her to dress down?
A: This is certainly an unusual problem, since you can't dictate how much or how little a person spends on a wardrobe. You can comment when attire is inappropriate for a setting, such as too sexy or too casual bordering on sloppy. But you can't interrogate her on where the money comes from to spend on such clothing. As you get to know her and find out about her family and her goals in life, you might learn the answers to how she attained such a wardrobe. If she performs well on the job, and all you are dealing with is everyone complimenting her, be a bit more patient in getting to know her.
Office Team (Menlo Park, Calif.) developed a survey on style of dress at work. An independent research firm asked 150 senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies: "To what extent does someone's style of dress at work influence his or her chances of being promoted?" Executives responded with 33 percent saying "significantly;" 60 percent saying "somewhat" and 7 percent saying "not at all." When you find out your receptionist's career and life goals, you may discover why she has chosen to dress expensively.
Sales Professional Wants the Road to Success — Now
Q: I am in a sales position where I have to give a lot of presentations. I took public speaking in college, and I am comfortable with talking to people, but combining the comfort of one-on-one conversation with presenting information to a group gets me nervous. Even if the product is great, I feel like my ability to present is what will make me a success in sales. I need to get there quickly, since companies could miss out on a good product if I'm not good at it. Any recommendations?
A: Read books on speaking and practice until you feel up to speed. Being comfortable presenting a subject or product has to do with how well you know it. First develop expertise on the product and on your company. You need to be able to talk without looking at index cards or an instruction manual. One helpful book is "10 Simple Secrets of the World's Greatest Business Communicators" by Carmine Gallo. Gallo features speakers such as Jack Welch, Tony Blair, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more. Each book you read will give you more confidence as you practice. There are no shortcuts to success.
Please send your questions to: Lindsey Novak, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd. Suite 700, Los Angeles, Calif. 90045. E-mail her at LindseyNovak@comcast.net, or visit her Web site at www.lindseynovak.com. To find out more about Lindsey Novak and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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