Interpersonal Edge: Does workplace favor pretty people? - East Valley Tribune: Business

Interpersonal Edge: Does workplace favor pretty people?

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Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2007 10:21 pm | Updated: 6:33 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: Answer this question: Why do tall men and good-looking women have an advantage in the work force? It just does not seem right!

sA: In study after study it has been proven that in the workplace people do judge a book by its cover. The commonly quoted statistic is that people make lasting impressions of other people within 30 seconds of meeting them.

It may not seem right. Then again, the older I get the more I think things like gravity just aren’t right either. So after we get done being mad about what isn’t fair, it can be effective to work with rather than against facts like gravity.

The reason tall men and goodlooking women or tall women and good-looking men have an advantage is that people naturally attribute positive psychological traits to physical attractiveness. Of course, we all know that there have been serial killers who were tall or good-looking, but it doesn’t stop most of us from thinking the best of pretty people.

When psychologists show people’s photos to test subjects and ask them to choose traits of these people, attractive people are usually rated as smarter, nicer and more competent. Keep in mind there is no research to suggest that this is true, but there is plenty of research to prove people believe it is true.

So what can we do if we are elevation challenged (short) or, like most of us, we can’t imagine being on the front of beauty magazines? We can make the best of what we’ve got.

Realize that whether it is fair or not, people will make decisions about you based on how you look, dress and style yourself. Fortunately, in our current society we’ve got lots of books, experts and even people who will coach you on how to put your best foot forward.

Sure, you have the right to show up at the office with purple hair or rhinestone jeans, and other people have the right to make decisions that will undermine your career.

I know we’ve all been told it’s what inside that really counts, and in our private moments, what’s inside deeply influences our life. Then again, nobody said you had to pick. It isn’t cheating to figure out how to package all those great insides you’ve got in a way that will help people take you seriously on the job!

Q: Love my job, hate my boss. Should I stay?

A: Not unless you enjoy having half of what you want! Keep your current position and search for a job with a better boss.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D. speaker, executive coach, trainer and psychotherapist can be reached at 1420 NW Gilman Blvd, #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027 by e-mail at, or at Sorry no personal replies. © 2005 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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