Recently I’ve found myself participating in more and more virtual meetings, adding to the never-ending anxiety of this year. While scheduling these one-on-one meetings, I was worried about the added awkwardness of Zoom. Not to mention, I have never spoken to any of these people face-to-face, or face to screen, so my anxiety was through the roof. So, I decided to wear my polymer clay sour key earrings as an attempt at an icebreaker.
Now, these meetings were not super formal, so my dress did not go against any professional standards, but instead mixed casual and professional. I would get dressed in the morning, usually choosing between a turtleneck or a t-shirt depending on the weather, then slip on my sour key earrings. I chose these earrings specifically because they are the most fun and conspicuous ones I own. Other options included little cherries or ravioli, but they don’t stand out as much so would likely be less effective.
I used my first meeting as a trial run on my earring theory. If the first person noticed them, hopefully it would induce a casual conversation and break the ice on other topics. I was worried that perhaps she would see it as unprofessional, but much to my disappointment, she didn’t say anything about them. Instead, my dog freaking out over an alarm stole the spotlight and took the cake as this meeting's icebreaker moment. This first trial was a failed attempt, so I decided to try again.
The second meeting began with the typical brief and awkward greetings. But then it happened. “Are those candy earrings?” she said, “Yeah! Sour keys” I laughed back. This moment, while seemingly small, was huge in terms of impacting my confidence throughout the entire meeting. Something so minuscule had such a big impact on my comfort level, it had the ability to lighten the atmosphere and bring the conversation down to a more personal and casual level. Attempt number two was obviously a success, with her not only noticing but also commenting on my earrings, so of course I tried again.
By the time I got to my third and final trial in my experiment I was nervous. With one success and one failure, this meeting would be the tie breaker. I nearly chose a more inconspicuous pair of earrings instead but decided to keep going with the experiment, wearing the sour keys. After the awkward greetings were over, we jumped into the meeting’s discussion and I quickly lost hope that the earrings would work a second time. But then, when there was a break in the conversation, he took the leap - “what are your earrings? I’ve been looking at them this whole time, they look like..candy?”. Another success for the sour key earrings!
So, overall, in two out of three meetings the earrings worked as an icebreaker like I intended them to. The presence of these earrings acted as an easy conversation starter to shift the entire mood of the interaction. This little thing helped boost my confidence and comfortability in a social setting, and maybe even that of the people I met with.
This experiment further proved to me that dress has a huge impact on our everyday lives. It has the power to shape our social interactions, confidence and sense of self. I challenge you to make your own little fashion experiment, whether it be wearing something to boost your confidence and comfortability, a conversation starter or something else entirely. If you are like me, doing an experiment is a great way to shift your thoughts to something other than anxiety when partaking in social interactions, like meetings.