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LinkedIn's 'peevish' study reveals bigger professional problem, gals

annoying antics or office politics?
annoying antics or office politics?
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Apparently business' largest social network, LinkedIn, used its vast resources last week determining an issue of utmost import: our largest professional pet peeves. {{Sardonic tone intended}}. LinkedIn culminated an international survey to determine some rather obvious cultural differences amongst prominent countries. In example,

  • Americans get most irritated by co-workers stealing others’ food from the office refrigerator.

  • Brazilians are the most annoyed of any national group by excessive gossiping.

  • Germans are peeved by filthy common areas (for example, the refrigerator or rest room) more so than the collective world...{although I don't see how anyone would tolerate much of that.}

  • Indians react most negatively to irritating mobile phone ring tones.

  • Japanese are disdained by office pranks than most others.

While such a study might appear at first rather trivial, for those trans-global corporateers, knowing one's cultural manners to a finite level is a must, and this of course includes whatsoever may irk your cross-country consumer. Certain psychological inferences are easy to extract from broad-stroked answers such as these surveys provide, should the source remain fairly reliable. In other words, it's fair to assume from the above information that Americans can be fairly possessive should their money be invested, Brazilians could care about possession and dissemination of personal information, Japanese like to get down to business.

Says Jean Shepperd, Diagnostic Clinician, such inferences deserve a bit of research of their own. “Pet peeves are a great insight into our inner drives, ambitions, preferences, and fears. Particularly if we are to do business with other cultures, these bits of psyche drive business decisions, so it is our job to know them, and know them well.”

Go figure. For more peevish fodder, feel free to check out my article, Worst Co-Worker Habits: are you guilty?.

While we're on the subject, the antediluvian gender difference also existed in LinkedIn's findings. For example, a whopping 62% of U.S. women were bothered by “clothing that's too revealing for the workplace,” (translated: other women's outfits) while a mere 29% of U.S. men surveyed said their female's wardrobe choices posed some personal discomfort. For the sake of backup figures to my pending point, the Swedish for example are apparently most tolerant in the study of workplace wardrobe, as only a modest gender split exists: revealing clothing irritates 35% of the women in Sweden, but only 12% of the men.

Please, allow me to state the obvious, and then an raise an issue of greater concern. Naturally, the “revealing” wardrobe malfunction to which this study plainly infers is that of the fairer sex: women. Furthermore, the fashion industry caters to said sex, allowing us a much wider selection of professional to arguably casual attire from which to select and adorn ourselves. Being runway trickle-down, stylishly hip but still in the confines of (affordable) good taste is now known as being “fashionista,” and its myriad endless ensembles are readily acceptable in the workplace, as vogue components are sold directly to business women-catered clothing outlets. So what exactly stirs up all the ire? Perhaps a V-line collar deemed to low, a bell skirt whose hem spared too few inches, black sheer stockings on a set of forty-four inch legs? Go to any professional center and I doubt you'll see anything akin to a parade of whores; rather, women will dress in a style suitable to both professional title and body-image (pride or lack thereof), mostly within the dictates of a preset office standard. So again, why women picking on women?

Dare I say the clothes, should they be reasonable, contemporary adult fashonista are in and of themselves inert. Not so in the billion dollar business of fashion itself, where runway models have precise features for which they are hired: in essence they are to act as mobile clothing hangers, allowing purchasers and press opportunity to focus upon the star—a breakthrough fashion piece floating effortlessly down the runway, practically of its own mobility. The model is background blur, the garment is center stage.

Inversely, allow me to propose, clothing itself is not the problem here, V-necks, sheer black stockings, four inch heels and all. It all goes back to the same reason that I, for example, a former promotions model, would never be hired to strut down the line on fashion week back in my hey day: given the same exact fashion garment, say scoop-neck chiffon floral dress, fitted waist, 54” length, I would represent a completely different shape and thus look of this frock than the appropriate model for which it was designed. At 6'2”, the proper model displays a flowing garment, shifting lightly against her skin as she sashes, the hem brushing effortlessly just below the knee. Perfect. With me, not so much: may as well stuff Jessica Rabbit into the dress. Naturally no one's going to be looking at it (which is the entire point!) in lieu of all the mess popping out of it. Furthermore at 5'4”, even in standard issue runway stilettos, I'd likely still trip clear off the ramp due to excess trim, at least for the average-height female.

Now you've the clear, bombastic visual, let's simply drive a point home: different women's bodies look differently in the self-same clothing, and therein certain areas, curves, lengths and depths will be emphasized as a result. According to such studies' percentages (and LinkedIn certainly isn't the first), with gender results revealing the same sad story time and time again, apparently, the majority of women's attire overall is neither unwelcome, nor a professional distraction to the opposite sex. (Yes, I know a whole other issue of sexuality and motives exists here, and I am stirring a massive pot. But I've already passed my word limit long ago, and anyhow, decent discussions prompt greater discussion!) Therefore, when a certain attire choice draws another woman's attention to the initial lady's natural figure, or whatever part of it, and evokes an internal reaction, the person watching must take at least some personal responsibility for her own emotions and the psychological factors prompting them. Because obviously there's a deep subjective issue brewing within, something keeping us from recognizing our own brilliance, and it's certainly not the girl with the gauged ears, nor the blonde who gets all the attention, neither the raven-haired beauty with her Ph.D. tattooed on her forearm's problem to mend. It is ours. It is ours alone to rectify.

Sure, women register complaints to HR against other women for petty, arguable outfit infractions to sate their own ire. Maybe the gauges get filled, or the two inches of cleavage get completely covered. Swell. While the practically insignificant measure has been appropriated and one's ego assuaged, will that fix the internal emotional problems women wrestle with, stifling our own professional (and personal) best? Hardly.

And besides, with all the gender in-fighting, we women as a whole wonder why we're still not getting ahead...

Maybe we can start tomorrow off with a simple...refocus.

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(for more dialogue regarding women in the workplace, try reading: The Politics of Beauty: When You're too Sexy for the Workplace.)

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