Business Faux Pas: Mustard On Your Tie and Poppy Seeds In Your Teeth

Today I offer some insight into the business world's conservative but justified stand on appearance.

During my 15 years as a sales rep in the electronics industry, I became closely acquainted with several of my accounts. These account managers consisting of purchasing supervisors, engineers and upper level CEOs confided to me some business faux pas that made them chuckle as soon as either they or the sales rep left their office.

Appearance is everything in the business world. Being a conservative world, keep in mind some of the actual perceived boo-boos observed by business management that I'm about to share with you. These are true stories. There are no names mentioned to protect the innocent.

One CEO commented he had the exact same tie as a particular sales rep who called on him. The CEO was initially impressed with the apparent good taste demonstrated by the salesman. Upon closer scrutiny of the tie, it was discovered that a mustard stain graced the Italian silk, hand-painted masterpiece. It struck the CEO as amusing. After about ten minutes into the sales rep's pitch, he also noticed something crusty stuck to the tie in addition to the mustard stain. The CEO had to excuse himself so that he could release the laugh he was stifling for the last 20 minutes. The sales rep was selling industrial cleaner. Moral of story: Check a mirror before going into an account and carry an extra tie in your briefcase for those post lunch meetings. Unless it's mandatory, don't wear a tie at all.

Bright red nail polish on women is a turn off to a possible prospectus. One account manager said, "All I was able to look at were long red talons. I couldn't keep focused on the presentation. The red nails were scary." It would be even scarier on a man. Moral of story: Clear nail polish for women, no nail polish for men.

Multiple earrings on both men and women make business executives want to run the other way. One comment, "Are they selling jewelry or electronics?" Another comment, "I kept trying to figure out how she could get all those holes in her ears without demolishing the whole ear." Last earring comment, "It looks painful." Moral of story: Women keep earrings to a pair