Is it true that clothes make the man or woman? Do people form an opinion about us based on the way we dress? They do. Does that mean we should avoid any sense of individuality in the workplace? Of course not. With that said, some types of clothing are inappropriate for certain work environments. In addition, some work environments have a dress code that all who work there must follow. Sometimes you won’t find these dress codes in writing; but if you look around you’ll find that all employees are dressed in a similar way.

This gives us something to think about when choosing an occupation, or a place of employment. Do we want to fit in, or do we want to be able to express our individuality on the job? The answers to these questions should play an important role in our career plans.

Let’s say you work somewhere where expressing one’s individuality is okay. Does that mean anything goes? That brings us back to being judged based on what we wear. Is it improper to wear revealing attire to work? It depends on where you work and whom you work with. A teacher should stay away from revealing attire, for instance. A retail sales clerk might be able to get away with it depending on where she works. In other words, good judgment is important here. If what you wear is distracting to others then maybe it’s time to go shopping.

What’s more important? Our deeds or our words? Some people use language others find offensive or at least feel doesn’t belong in the workplace. Does the fact that someone does great things outweigh the fact that he or she may be offending those around him or her? Well, if your language puts just one co-worker off, it’s probably a good idea to shape up. In social situations, one can choose to stay away from someone who uses foul language. At work that person is a captive audience. While you may be protected by freedom of speech laws, that doesn’t make it okay to irritate those around us.

Let’s not forget sexual harassment. Can your words be misconstrued as sexual harassment? It all depends on who is the recipient of your comments and how far they plan to take it. Even an innocent joke can be taken as harassment.

Being outspoken can be a good thing. However, being a loud mouth is not. It’s true that the “squeaky wheel gets the oil.” But how squeaky should you be? Again, look at your work environment. Is this type of behavior encouraged or discouraged? Having opinions is a good thing, being opinionated is not. There are some people, and we all know who they are, who must have a strong opinion about each and every thing. And, that person must make that opinion very public. Choose your causes wisely or it will look like your primary cause is hearing your own voice.