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Class / Refinement / Sophistication / Style — Continued

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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…

Intelligence

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As quoted on my “Why?” page:   “Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.”   -Andre Gide

Also on my “Why?” page I said I am doing this “Because the world DESERVES to know.”

As well, I said, “I have taken the burden upon myself to grace humanity with a written account of what they SHOULD already know and practice.”

That said I also want to make clear I do not have a monopoly on this knowledge.  In fact, much of what I have to say has at least been hinted at by others.  That is part of the point, people haven’t listened.  Sometimes that is due to the “others” being relegated to ancient history (about which we should, heaven forbid, read), sometimes to limited access (to a venue or an audience).  Sometimes (but rarely) I am just repeating.  Sometimes I am elaborating.  Therefore, on occasion, of which this is one, I will be setting out a series of quotes on a particular subject that spells out, by those far more intelligent than I (at least on that given subject), much that we SHOULD know.   NO, this is not a copout – not a way to just make it easy on me.  It is an acknowledgement that some people are smarter than I.  Although the first quote suggests against appealing to authority for proof of right.  I’ll let you figure it out.  Please enjoy and contemplate.

Let us start with the topic of Intelligence.

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.   –Leonardo da Vinci

[Editor’s note:  I will have future comments with reference to education.  This is the sighting shot]

It takes a lot of things to prove you are smart, but only one thing to prove you are ignorant.   -Don Herold

You have to be smart. The easy days are over.   -Robert Kiyosaki

[Editor’s note: a lessen I hope my cadets get]

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.   -Niccolo Machiavelli

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.   -Confucius

Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.   -Albert Einstein

{Editor’s note:  another thought for my cadets (Think Ahead, Do Ahead!)]

Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.   -Blaise Pascal

There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have.   -Don Herold

We all agree that pessimism is a mark of superior intellect.   -John Kenneth Galbraith

There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.   -George Orwell

[Editor’s note: If you have to think about this too long…]

Success in almost any field depends more on energy and drive than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders.   -Sloan Wilson

I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.   -William F. Buckley, Jr.

[Editor’s note:  always did like this guy]

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?   -Scott Adams

[might be my favorite – well, except for the 1st]

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