Comments on Appearance

“You look great today!” “Love your outfit!” “Have you lost weight?”

We’ve all heard comments like this in the office and in the courtroom. Even if you’re well-intentioned, giving compliments like this may not be okay.  Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t comment on someone’s appearance in a professional setting.

  1. The person may view it as disrespectful and maybe even harassment. The degree of respect you have for them should not be based on their appearance – it should be based upon their professional competency.
  2. You can hurt someone’s feelings or make them feel uncomfortable. For example, someone’s weight loss could be unintentional due to illness or some other negative event happening in their life.
  3. When a 3rd party hears you commenting on someone else’s appearance, they will get the wrong idea about what you value in a colleague.

Limit your compliments to the quality of someone’s work. Workplace relationships are not based on how much someone weighs or how they dress. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are – bad things can happen when you comment on someone’s physical appearance.

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Karen is a graduate of Wartburg College in Waverly, IA, and Drake University Law School in Des Moines, IA. She began her legal career as a prosecutor before entering private practice. For over 20 years, her practice has focused on family law and general practice. Karen is trained in Collaborative Law and also acts as a parenting coordinator for high conflict parents. Since 2009, Karen has served as a judicial magistrate in Iowa. She is also the Chief Compliance Officer and pre-law advisor at Wartburg College. Karen is the author of “The New Lawyer’s Handbook: 101 Things They Don’t Teach You in Law School” and also two knitting books for children. Her commentaries and guest opinions have appeared in the Huffington Post and the Des Moines Register. She and her husband Pete have 4 children.