Why naked people don’t have influence

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Mark Twain famously said, ‘Clothes make the man – naked people have very little influence on society.’ In this vlog, Grant explains why.

Imagine you were on a plane and the pilot walked past you wearing jeans in a t-shirt.

Would you be okay with that?

I mean, you might say, that if the pilot can technically fly a plane, why does it matter what he wears?

But you’d be wrong.

Experiments have been repeated many times where they take two random sets of people and put one in white lab coats and the other ones wearing their normal everyday clothes.

And every time they found the people in white lab coats made less mistakes and were more focused on the activities than the people that weren’t wearing the coats.

So a pilot who isn’t wearing uniform, is more likely to make mistakes than one who is.

Do you still want to get on that plane?

That might be why Mark Twain said, ‘clothes make the man – naked people have very little influence on society.’

So you might ask, well, this is interesting stuff, but what’s it gonna do with me?

What do you wear when you go and see a customer?

What do you wear when you go and see a prospect?

Because what you wear will affect not only the way that they perceive you, but your own performance.

Are you quite relaxed with what your staff wear at work – but actually the clothes that they wear will affect their performance.

Not everybody has to be in a shirt and tie, but making sure that people are wearing a uniform, as it were – that will bring out the best in them, for the job that they’re doing – is important.

If you have people in a very creative role, allowing them to wear clothes that allow them to express themselves might bring out the best in them.

Similarly, a chef in the kitchen wears whites because hygiene is of the utmost importance.

So it’s important to think about how you want to be perceived and how you want to perform and ensure that your clothes match those aspirations.

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There may be small changes to the spoken word in this transcript in order to facilitate the readability of the written English

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  1. An excellent read this morning Grant, thank you. People are “in the zone” when they have their “work clothes” on – we have seen this with “dress down” Fridays – not as productive and we avoid arranging client meetings on Fridays.

  2. Thanks for the video, very interesting. I am doubtful that the lab coat experiment can be extrapolated in this way to all other professions. Performance and productivity would need to be carefully measured and the results shown to be statistically significant. And of course there may be correlation but not necessarily causation. We do choose to wear branded workwear when on site for example so for us it instinctively holds some truth and would agree it is definitely worth thinking about.

    1. Author

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments Tim. We know that System 1 (the subconscious) is far more influential on our behaviour and decision making than System 2 (the conscious mind). The way clothing effects are System 1 is of utmost importance. Of course, while influential, there are many factors at play. part of this is to be in control of as many of the variables as possible. In this way, we can change the odds in our favour, that we will perform optimally. Of course, there are no guarantees.

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