high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A suit by any other name...

Due to a recent promotion at work, I'm now wearing a suit every day.  In one respect, this is a nice change.  As a result of societal imprinting, wearing a suit makes me feel more respectable and more professional.  There is also the enjoyability of picking out a suit to wear and, whether it is true or not, feeling like you made a good choice for the day.  Finally, suits have lots of handy pockets inside the jacket, thus making them a fairly useful garment when you have things like a Blackberry to carry.

A suit.  But is it a suit?
On the other hand, wearing a suit brings with it the inherent danger of others' perceptions.  More specifically, there is the danger that people (and in the worst cases, the people you work with) will perceive you as a "suit."  In other words, you must rise to the challenge of wearing a suit without being a suit.

First of all, what does it really mean to be a "suit?"  In my mind, it means that people don't take you seriously, they view you as being ineffectual, stuffy, and with nothing to offer except vague managerial buzz words and cliches, with perhaps a sprinkling of references to various organizational policies.  A suit is not a welcome figure.  When a suit walks into the room, people immediately feel less positive about the situation.  A suit cannot relate to people, despite any attempts to come across as casual, down-to-earth, or easy going.  People don't want to associate with suits, or listen to suits, or have anything to do with suits.  In short, suits are not welcome.

Suits are always associated with "management."  For example, in any modern company you probably will have some group, large or small, of computer programmers.  The guys who go out for lunch together all the time, tell nerd jokes to each other, are knowledgeable about internet trends, and have fairly specialized skills.  This group of programmers will be managed by someone, and in many cases, that someone will be a suit.  The guy who thinks he's in charge, who tells them what they're not allowed to do, who tries to impose order and rules, and who will never fit in with the guys, no matter how much or how little he realizes it.  The programmers look upon the suit with scorn, and either joke about him behind his back or simply take the route of pretending he isn't there.