Since last few weeks I have been in hospital with my father who wasn’t keeping too well. Thankfully, he has returned home and is recovering. The time spent in hospital gave me opportunity to interact with a lot of people, doctors as well as assistants who were helping in my father’s recovery.
During one of the mornings when an attendant came to assist my father, on the first impression he didn’t like the best of the people who were a good fit for that kind of the profile. He didn’t look very appealing, his face was completely expressionless and it appeared as if he was not interested in the job. My first reaction to his way of looking and facial expression was that this guy wouldn’t do his work properly and I would need to perhaps interfere and tell him to do his work properly. I kept watching him till the time I realized I was wrong in my assessment.
Though by his looks it appeared that he wouldn’t do his work properly, that person actually did a good job. He was courteous and helped my father with his medication quite nicely and acted with good manners. His conduct was completely different from the way he looked and the way he gave those facial expressions initially when he entered.
I was quite embarrassed because I had made up mind negatively about him purely on the basis of his looks and facial expressions. I was sure he is not the right person for the job, he was not the right person to help my father and the views were going wild to such an extent that I thought this person is not fit to be in the hospital itself. And BANG!! I was proved completely wrong in the next 10 minutes of looking at him.
Why is it that we human beings have this attitude to judge people by their looks? You enter a meeting and the first impression you make is by the looks of that person, you go and meet the teacher of your child’s class and the first impression you make is by the looks, you meet a prospective bride/groom and the first impression you make is by the looks, you meet a candidate for interview and the first impression you make is by the looks, you go to a seminar and the first impression you make of the speaker is by his/her looks. And in majority of the cases the impression you make on your first meeting completely goes opposite after you meet that person few more times.
I was reading an article sometime back that said research shows good-looking people have better chances to get jobs, that good-looking people get better results for their companies, that good-looking people make friends easily etc., etc. Do you think it’s actually true that good-looking people do better in life vis-à-vis people who are probably not so good-looking?
I would like to differ in my opinion about the above research and I truly believe that better prospects in life are definitely not linked to good looks, at least in the long run. Of course, if you are in an industry that requires good looks and great facial expressions such as fashion, modeling etc. then perhaps the things might be different. Even in that, I would say that if good looks were important in modeling then how Naomi Campbell (http://www.naomicampbell.com/) who’s a black is considered one of the most famous super models in the world.
A perfect example of the person who probably is not good looking but achieved great heights in his professional career is Mr. Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America. Being a person of black origin, he defied all the odds and went on to become the President. What better example can I give? Being a black was always to his dis-advantage, because no black person had ever had become the President of USA. But did he not prove everyone wrong, did he not prove that good looks, fair complexion is only a theoretical matter on paper and in reality things are completely different.
Few weeks back my Partner interviewed a person who had some 9 years of post qualification experience in audit. He seemed to be a nice, knowledgeable person but his first impression and looks were not that appealing. My partner met him and tested him on technical and found him quite impressive, but his only concern was his overall demeanor and not so impressive personality. Since majority of the clients in our organization – International Business Advisors (IBA) (www.ibadvisors.co) are multinational companies, his apprehension whether the candidate would be able to speak and perform well in front of the clients was quite justifiable.
After the interview we discussed whether he should be hired or not. My first view was very simple. I asked him – “Is this person good in technical knowledge”, to which my Partner’s answer was a Yes. In fact, he was impressed with his knowledge. Then my second question was –“Do you think he would perform very poor in front of the client or do you think he would perform ok, but not too bad”, to which his answer was that he wouldn’t perform too bad because his technical knowledge is good. And there is goes, I said that you have yourself answered your question.
We hire a person and test him on basically two parameters – One, is he sound in his knowledge of law and work and ethics and Second, is he presentable so that we can send him/her in front of the client. Since, this was an audit profile, both the parameters were equally important unlike tax, where interaction with the client is more digital than physical. So, I told my Partner that in my view making a call only on his looks and personality is not right. You should take a holistic approach and see if in the overall scheme of things he would fit. If he were able to impress client with his knowledge, how the hell would his looks or personality make a dent in your practice. My Partner agreed and gave him the appointment letter.
If good-looking people were the only ones to survive and prosper, then probably we wouldn’t have seen Mukesh Ambani (business tycoon), Will Smith (Hollywood actor), Irrfan Khan (Bollywood actor), Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Bollywood actor), Arvind Keriwal (Politician), Serene Williams (Tennis Player), P.T. Usha (Athlete), Milkha Singh (Athlete), Leander Paes (Tennis player), Om Puri (Theatre and Bollywood actor), all highly successful professionals, politicians, athletes and actors. If looks and physical appearance are the only yardstick to success and progress then these people had not right to be successful and eventually famous.
To me, a successful person is one who is able to make a difference to the society, someone who is able to defy all odds against him/her and is able to succeed consistently, someone who inspires people do better in life, someone who is able to create a fan-following because he/she is the one who has decided to make some difference in people’s life, irrespective of his/her looks or complexion.
Ultimately, to be successful, you have to behave successful and to behave successful you simply need to develop high level of confidence. Once you develop confidence in yourself, you would be able to project that confidence in your attitude and consequently, that would start reflecting in your overall demeanor.
If you project confidence in your daily rigor, no one would ever bother about your looks or your complexion or your personality. I am not trying to suggest that you don’t work on having a good personality, but what I am trying to say is that don’t worry at all if you lack confidence or good looks or a great personality. All these things can be cultivated in your personality with efforts and hard work and trust me; once you develop these traits you are going to have a wonderful life.
Though there are hundreds of ways to develop self confidence, I have tried to capture few that I thing are important and easy to do:
1. Work hard on your craft. Whatever you do, do it so well that no one can be better than you.
2. Work on acquiring additional skills. The more skillful you are, the more people like you. Try and learn new skills in music, dance, art and craft and do things people generally don’t do. These things help you create a niche and give you an edge over other people.
3. Try and do things that people like. Do more charity, make people laugh, join different groups where people of different interests come together, learn shayari because that might help you make new friends.
4. Don’t spend time with confidence vampires. People who look you down or who don’t encourage you to do positive and good things are the ones who shouldn’t be around us. Rather, spend time with people who like your company or rather, who like you as it is.
5. Give time to people and listen to them. Be empathetic towards your friends, office colleagues, seniors etc. People in this world look for people who are willing to listen to their worries and tensions and if you offer that role, you certainly would be in the good books of a large no. of people.
Finally, identify ways to be happy, joyful, loving and kind. There are not many people in this world with these qualities, though there are millions of people with good looks and fair complexion.
In the end I would like to end this article with a statement:
“Don’t forget that on the highway of life, we have come much farther than many of the people in this world. So don’t worry on petty things and embrace your blessings”
All the best and stay blessed…
Authored by Nimish Goel who by profession is a qualified chartered accountant but by passion, is an active blogger. Nimish has worked with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company (International Business Advisors) and manages his blog www.nimishgoel.com.