Concerning Casual Fridays

Casual Fridays are about more than dress and style, and in some cases are tied to office politics and coworker viewpoints.

The ‘perk’ of Casual Fridays is certainly not an uncommon workplace ideal. In some offices, however, this seemingly optional measure is taken quite seriously. Having recently started a new job, I quickly found that out the hard way when four people — each with a tone of marked irritation — made a point to inform me: “You know we do Casual Fridays, right?”

Take It Easy, Baby

Of course, I am well aware of this “policy,” and I do value a relaxed atmosphere. The thing is, I actually feel comfortable in “dress clothes.”

Keeping in mind that old tenet to ‘dress for the event,’ I will opt for a long-sleeve, button-up shirt over a golf shirt any day of the week. This doesn’t mean I hold some sort of vendetta against any clothing. Given the option, however, and whether at work or play, I will always choose my dress shirt and slacks over a golf shirt and jeans. It is simply a personal preference.

casual-friday

With Us or Against Us

Over the weekend, I replayed the rather hostile confrontations in my mind, searching for answers as to how this intended “casual” day could take such a sour turn. I came to realize that the issue goes far beyond jeans, sneakers, and really any type of clothing at all. It likely stems from hurt feelings and misinterpretation.

No one wants or deserves to be belittled, or made to feel somehow inferior to another. From the very first days of our lives, humans are hard-wired to seek out approval and inclusion. As children, we look for parental approval. As adults, most of us seek to encourage pleasant accord with friends, family, and co-workers.

When someone or something threatens that harmony, the tendency is to go into “defense mode.” The trouble is, this measure works (or doesn’t work!) both ways. So while co-workers may have viewed my choice not to participate in Casual Friday as some sort of antagonistic display of superiority, their own aggressive reactions lead me to believe that they were somehow displeased with my professional or personal performance (or both).

Team Player

As a show of compromise, and also a sort of social experiment, this week I will break down and “contribute” to Casual Friday with jeans and a golf shirt. Wish me luck.

by Mr. Grunbau
Employment and Enterprise
Residential Life Magazine

Suri Says: Ugly Sweaters

Dear Suri, There is a group at my work that organizes events: holiday parties, potlucks, and other things. Usually, the stuff they plan is actually pretty fun. But for this year’s holiday party, they’re doing an “ugly sweater” contest, and that is where I draw the line.

First of all, I don’t make a habit of purposely wearing something that would be called ‘ugly.’ I’m not a fashionista by any means, and I don’t really focus on clothing labels, or a certain designer, or what have you. I do like to look good, and I do put in the necessary effort to be able to look good, and I am not ashamed of it one bit! So, why should I throw all that away and try to be tacky?

Fun or Fashion?
Fun or Fashion?

Next, I’m not really into going out and buying a sweater that I’d only wear once. I think that is a waste of time and money, especially at the holidays! It’s actually unfair, I think, to ask employees to do this.

Also, I know someone is going to get a bit too tipsy and take some pictures, and then post them all over Facebook! I just don’t need those images to be available for everyone to see until the end of time!

My fiancé says I need to “suck it up” and just wear the sweater. I think he’s wrong. I think your advice might be better.  So, I am writing to get a second opinion! — Amalie L. | Shoreline, Washington

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Dear Amalie, Workplace politics can, admittedly, try even the most patient among us. How we choose to conduct ourselves around our coworkers and superiors, however, can have lasting effects on both our professional and personal lives.

Most office parties last only a few hours. Could you not endure wearing the sweater for this short amount of time? Following the festivities, you could simply slip it off and return to an outfit you’re more comfortable in. You may also choose to bring the garment to work and find a place to change just prior to the party. This could keep to a minimum any potential embarrassment or awkward feelings you may experience.

I presume you will not be the only person wearing an “ugly sweater.” You may, however, find yourself the only one not joining in the fun. Next month, many people will forget all about the party. There will, however, be a group that will remember those who chose not to participate.

Your decision has the potential to create lasting perceptions that could translate into less than desirable consequences. Choose wisely. ~ Suri

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About Suri Says™

Suri Syrtauwnya is the resident advice queen at Residential Life Magazine. Her unique insight into “pickles and predicaments” (as she puts it) has helped many of us sort out even the most difficult of decisions. Now, we’re sharing this valuable resource! Submit your questions for Suri.