Like any other kid in my school required to undergo medical and dental checkups, I am fully aware of the height growth chart and how nicely I grow up based on my age requirement. That was until my genes decided for me to sport a 12 years old height equivalent for the rest of my life. My height coupled with my somewhat baby face feature does make people double-take, especially in places with age requirement entry.
In all honesty, my appearance and stature don’t bother me that much; I can still drive our family car, wear regular cut pants without the need for altering, reach overhead cabinets and gym equipment with a help of stools within reach, and do other normal things that tall people do.
Although once in a while it somehow gets in the way in work.
As an Architect, being in this industry requires me to face clients and suppliers regularly. The first impression is a factor in establishing rapport with people and studies say that it only takes seven seconds to nail that. Given how quick assumptions are made, and factoring in the first thing people see on me, there are things on how I carry myself that I need to take a step further.
I am thankful to a lot of people for trusting me on projects with different scales. However, I can also lose count on times I had experienced inopportune times where impressions range from being “too young” to deal with and to even questioning my ability either upfront or condescendingly.
How do I get to pass these?
On the Physical aspect, I still follow fashion tips for my stature. I am always fond of High waist Palazzo Pants and straight cut High waist slacks because these make me look taller. Wearing eyeglasses also makes a person look mature and so does wearing light makeup.
During Client or Supplier meetings, I always wear sensible shoes like oxfords, brogues, 2 to 3-inch heels, plain leather ankle boots or wedges which would allow me to stand and walk solidly. Color psychology is also something I consider when coordinating the clothes that I wear. For site meetings I always consider comfort, I wear a polo shirt or plain shirt, dark-colored jeans and my steel toe shoes or sensible rubber shoes.
It is also good to remember that dressing for the occasion alone is not enough. Based on my experience, I still need to break impressions and prove myself.
Preparation is the most lethal weapon you can bring with you. It will encompass your attitude, composure, stature, and confidence towards the person you’ll present or talk to. Architects are trained to be procedural, so I align my thoughts, agenda, and presentations in that matter. Organization and clarity reflect the depth of your knowledge in your subject matter.
However, being procedural doesn’t mean to be factual alone. Too much logic and data can make us too robotic. Make an impact by showing warmth and over time show competence. When I attended a free seminar in Benilde’s SPaCE last September 2019, it was emphasized that Stories are memorable than facts alone, and a person would most likely remember and embrace a fact if it was told in a story.
Lastly, based on an article in Forbes about the Art of Persuasion; “Women tend to cross their arms and legs making them small and withdrawn on a panel or giving a talk”. Body language helps us convey our message and to create an impact is to use this wisely. Expansive gestures convey openness and emphasis on your point. Making Eye Contact with the person you’re talking to or to several individuals during a presentation demonstrates warmth and connection with them.
Judgment and scrutiny is something I experience once in a while. I would be lying if it doesn’t get into my skin sometimes especially if I am very passionate about what I am discussing about. To move forward from it is a process towards growth but I also believe that this cycle needs to be broken, it’s best to give respect to everyone unless proved that they don’t.