There’s nothing wrong with liking someone in the office — you could care less if they like you — and you aren’t judged for it.
But when a colleague’s profile page comments on your appearance, you may feel exposed. Is it safe to comment? Are you obligated to speak up if something is bothersome? What if this stranger makes something personal?
We reached out to style mavens — who cover the trends that get most buzz — to ask them to weigh in on their interpretation of office grooming, interaction rules and what’s right for both colleagues and followers.
If my thoughts on office grooming differ from a colleague’s, I may not be right in my perceptions. Some simple background facts about others: 1) Not every gender has the same perception of the male body as every female body, so there may be differences. What does the colleague mean? 2) What do others around them think? You may not understand how or why they view someone else differently.
Let’s assume there are such assumptions.
If you observe some blurring of the line between politics and personal social media posts, it’s best to quickly address such conflicts, especially if you feel you should speak up, Pancho Willett, founder of hair care line Tooley’s, said.
Sometimes, it is even best to discuss an issue with a different colleague, Willett said. “Someone might state how inappropriate the comment is,” he said.
Or, you may want to send a nudge message: This person has had enough. If he or she needs someone to vent to, reaching out is probably a good move.
What do my colleagues think? “I never question my colleagues’ comments unless I am truly offended,” Sara Kun, a makeup artist and instructor at the Department of Makeup Arts, Modern Makeup Academy, said. “I generally appreciate comments on the form, but my overall disposition is that they are in the minority.” I never question my colleagues’ comments unless I am truly offended, Sara Kun, a makeup artist and instructor at the Department of Makeup Arts, Modern Makeup Academy, said. “I generally appreciate comments on the form, but my overall disposition is that they are in the minority.” We won’t hear your opinion, but you can point out your perspective at any time. And if you feel like an exchange is required, you should share what is triggering you, Kun said.
Fashion expert and host of MTV’s “The Bewitched Files,” Kelli Brooks, said she likes to talk to her colleagues when she sees something she feels inappropriate. “That goes back to my saying: ‘We don’t all make identical decisions about how we look,’” she said.
If something is wrong with something you see, do not give in to depression. “Find out if you have trust issues if you are affected by something like that. You may need to have a talk with yourself and ask for support,” she said.” Find out if you have trust issues if you are affected by something like that. You may need to have a talk with yourself and ask for support,” she said.
Unless there is an incident in which a colleague has followed through with a comment, it’s best to maintain professionalism, said Lauren Christensen, fashion editor at New York magazine and author of The First-Time Editor’s Handbook: How to Re-invent Your Magazine Work So You Can Enjoy It (Yale University Press, 2016). “My suggestions would be to pick your battles. If someone is attempting to embarrass you, then choose to ignore it. In the same vein, just don’t give it your unbridled attention.”Don’t rule out your colleague, however.”We always want to be on the same page,” she said. “I have never told a friend to ignore someone else’s comments.” However, in the same vein, just don’t give it your unbridled attention.”
Regarding comments to a female employee: “If they identify as a man, either keep quiet or say nothing,” Christensen said. “Most of the time, this person will know my gender so they can assume the context.”
Whatever you do, be professional.