Home

Class / Refinement / Sophistication / Style — Continued

Leave a comment

We ended off last time with “What has this got to do with us?”

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.”  While I will appeal below to a few “experts”, we will first appeal to logic, to rational thought, to critical thinking.

Pride in appearance and speech begets pride in other aspects of your life.  What you feel when you wear “dressy” clothes.  The attitude you have.  Some people claim they feel stifled when wearing a suit or nice dress. I’m not so sure that is truly the case.  You undoubtedly feel less comfortable than you do in your favorite pair of sweats – especially since most aren’t used to wearing quality clothing on a regular basis in this day-in-age.  On the other hand, there is a sense of quality.  There is a sense of status if you will.  You feel like people are going to have a higher opinion of you than is the case when you are wearing shorts and a t-shirt [and they DO by-the-way].  However you might feel in a pair of sweats – comfortable, relaxed…  I’ll guarantee you don’t feel respected when you are out and about in flip-flops and shorts and a t-shirt.  In fact, there may have been a time when you witnessed, either personally or someone else, someone “of quality” looking down with distain upon the manner of dress.  You’ve seen all kind of writings about people who look down with derision upon those not acting properly, those who do not speak properly, those who do not dress properly.  I believe that if we would be honest with ourselves we would admit that when we are “dressed up”, for lack of a better term, – at least what we would call it now days – it makes us feel good.  It does make us feel there is a quality about us – a quality that is not there when we are in a shorts and t-shirt and flip-flops or sweats or pajamas on our way to Walmart.  So keeping in mind those feelings, we should acknowledge our relationship with other people, how we treat other people, how we act toward other people, how we act with other people, is also of higher quality.  It changes us for the better.

This goes for speech as well.  There have been many times throughout history, and I would dare say even today, when you hear people refer to how those from the lower class speak – anywhere from Old Town London where people on the “lower side” (working-class Londoners) are speaking in a Cockney accent to what we would claim now about Hillbillies or those of the “lower class” in the South.  When you are speaking in such a manner you are not relating on an equal level with those that take pride in the way they speak.  The phraseology that they use…  The grammar they ensure is correct…  On the other hand, I’ve heard many a time, “he understood me, the message got across, what difference does it make how I speak?”

As you will see below, this doesn’t necessarily work as well out there in the real world, the business world as an example, where people look with derision on those who just don’t take the time to put forth a good foot, either in the they dress or speak.  It shows laziness, it shows sloth, it shows you just don’t care about the way you look, the way you speak, about the way you carry yourself. About the way you relate to other people.  And, like it or not, business owners or those in the HR department or hiring managers for an organization, want to hire and keep people that aren’t lazy – people that present themselves in all manner of care.  They want people that are going to take the time and make the effort to present themselves in a manner that is befitting the company – or people of quality period.  When you do not present yourself in that manner you are losing out on opportunities you may otherwise have – opportunities for which you may have educated and trained yourself over many years.  But more importantly, you are demonstrating to the rest of society that they are not worth the effort.  Not that you are of less value.  But that you are not worth the time.

Aside from the aforementioned (previous post) “supporting, ill-mannered, gracious less, disrespectful society” affecting the rest of us, numerous studies have been done that demonstrate the detrimental effect of ignoring proper dress and speech on relationships, work and culture. This part of what has changed is not good for humanity as a whole – which then, directly and indirectly, does affect all of us on an individual level.  How we dress and the manner in which we address each other and our speech in general translates to our attitude toward life and the effort we put into our society. As well, people that are given an inch will take a mile (not my saying but a great one).  The “old ways” may not be the best in all regard, but they are far better than the Dark Ages – for which, I would suggest, we are again heading.  We do though seem willing to accept that civility in general is lacking and we are ok with that.  It confuses me though that while people don’t object on a societal level, they certainly object on a personal one.  Well, societies are made up of individuals…

One type of example [and there are far too many to address in a single post] is the numerous studies done on dressing for work-at-home jobs (and elsewhere).  All these studies conclude that how a person dresses affects work performance (even though nobody else can see you).  The suggestion that having a home based business allows you to “go to work” in your pajamas or sweats is true.  However, the studies show that your neighbor, being in the same business working from his home but dressing as if he were heading to an office in the city, would run rings around your productivity.  Dress affects attitude.  Dress affects alertness.  Dress affects performance.  Dress affects the bottom line.  You don’t believe me?  How about a few examples?

Forbes recently had an article entitled Casual Summer Work Environment Kills Productivity and Profits.  The article claims that, too the employees, Casual Work Environment Means “You don’t have to work”.  A business owner providing a “casual summer” [or casual Friday] work schedule is setting the company up for failure. Subtle statements may result in:

• Employees don’t have to work at their normal level of quality,

• The company does not value the overall impression given to the customer,

• Customer service is not important,

• Profits are secondary to pleasing the employees, and

• The business is not intended as a long term venture.

The article goes on to say “People use the heat as an excuse for dressing casual. Unfortunately, many employees don’t know what is ‘too casual’ for the office. The dramatic difference in employee appearance taints the company’s image. This can confuse consumers.”  And finally, in the article’s “Tips For Building A Culture Of Success During Summer” (since that is often when companies institute the more casual dress policy) it states “avoid casual Friday. This policy insinuates that Friday is a ‘non-work’ day.”

In the instruction to her paper The Effect of Casual Dress on Performance in the Workplace, Sarah Maloney Hughes of The Master’s College states in the Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences:

“The way you look directly affects the way you think, feel, and act . . . . When you dress down, you sit down—the couch potato trend. Manners break down, you begin to feel down, and you’re not as effective” (Kaplan-Leiserson, 2000, p. 39). Stephen Goode (2000, p. 4) states the findings of research psychologist, Jeffery L. Magee, that “Continually relaxed dress leads to relaxed manners, relaxed morals and relaxed productivity” and “leads to a decrease in company loyalty and increase in tardiness.”        Dolbow suggests that the accepted casual dress in the office workplace is causing “casual attitudes and a lack of office decorum” (2000, p. 10).

Other examples…  in these cases, effects of dress code on students.

1) LPSRoyalTimes.com (Leadership Public Schools, Oakland, CA)

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2012 | By Livia Looby

19 Schools in Chicago did a study on student’s behavior by making one day a dress code day, one was a dress down day, and the other one was a regular day.  There were 211 referrals given out on dress code days, 233 on regular days, and 322 on dress-down days. The study done in these 19 schools showed that by having a dress code it did decrease the bad behavior in school.

2) Recent research at Sam Houston State University offers some evidence:

The research was conducted by Jimmy Creel and Angela Stallings, while completing work on their doctorates in education in SHSU.  Creel studied the impact of dress codes on black students in a Houston area suburban school district, while Stallings concentrated on Hispanic students.  “It is possible, based on our findings, that the benefits of a standardized dress code implemented and maintained over time may very well have a positive effect on student achievement,” she said. Creel said their study showed a number of positive benefits, including “improved campus morale and reduced discipline violations, increased school pride, improved collaboration and teamwork among students…”  Also, “enhanced image of students and the school in the community, minimization of the effects of economic variations among students, and reduction in the overall cost of student wardrobes.”

Considering speech in society and/or workplace:

In the book How To Turn Your Abilities To Cash, “master salesman and successful author” Earl Prevette devoted Chapter IX to How To Improve Your Speech, Voice And Manner.  He said –

There are three definite reasons why one should endeavor to speak correctly. Namely:

(1) People never judge you by what you don’t say. They judge you by what you say, and if you can do this well, it will influence people to have confidence in you. Therefore, form the habit of pronouncing each word correctly, and to speak with care and dignity.

(2) Speech is the only means to make yourself understood. By not pronouncing your words correctly and by not speaking with the proper care, your listener may get the wrong meaning out of what you say.

(3) The correct pronunciation of each word, enunciating each syllable, will not only improve your speech, but will also enable you to spell correctly more easily.

He goes on to say, “Speech, Voice and Manner are all fundamental parts of our living. The use one makes of these reflects how he lives. The study of Speech, Voice and Manner develops social poise and a more desirable and pleasant personality. The three personal attributes of character enumerated are all dependent to a large degree upon each other. The improvement and development of one means the improvement and development of all.”

In Appropriate Language by Stacie Heaps:  “One of the most important things you can do as an employee and colleague is to use appropriate language in the workplace. In the business world, making a good impression and projecting yourself as mature, intelligent, confident, and professional is critical to long-term success. Inappropriate language, whether spoken or written, can negatively affect your credibility and put off or even offend those you work with. Both in speech and in writing, take the time and make the effort to use appropriate language.”  Her 8 rules for appropriate language begin with “Use standard English and follow established rules of grammar”.

According to Science for All Americans by F. James Rutherford and Andrew Ahlgren, “The class into which people are born affects what language, diet, tastes, and interests they will have as children, and therefore influences how they will perceive the social world. Moreover, class affects what pressures and opportunities people will experience and therefore affects what paths their lives are likely to take—including schooling, occupation, marriage, and standard of living. Still, many people live lives very different from the norm for their class.”

A final note from George Washington, the 1st President of the United States – from his The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation

-Wear not your clothes foul, or ripped, or dusty, but see they be brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any uncleanness.

-Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.

There is so much more but I promised my wife to keep my posts under 2000 words on Sunday – although I seem to be breaking that promise of late.  All of this translates to our dress and speech being a factor in how we view and treat each other.  We have “dumbed down” society through both.  Since most have lost this sense of style, class, refinement – how might we get it back?  We will look at possible solutions at a later date.  Until then, what are you going to do?!

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…

Our Country?

Leave a comment

I never planned to be quoting from the Bible nor have I plans to do so in the future.  However, in reading this recently it struck me as applicable to the current day.  It is said, “Those that do not study history are bound to repeat it.”  I submit that it makes little difference.  Some of the most grievous offenders of repeating history (and thinking they can do better) are the most serious students of it.

From the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer 7:23-28)

Thus says the Lord: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, so that you may prosperBut they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.  From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent untiringly all my servants the prophets.  Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.  When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either. When you call to them, they will not answer you.  Say to them: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.

Remind you of any particular country?