For most of my life, I've been a decidedly un-girly kind of girl. I know it's the girl catchphrase du jour to say with a giggle, "Oh, I used to be such a tomboy," so I won't bother to go into detail about just how far that sixth-grade rabbit hole goes. Unibrow and Airwalks aside (spark your interest yet?), I never was good at being primped and polished. I remember getting my first manicure at the tender age of 13 and feeling wildly uncomfortable -- like I didn't belong. Not only did my bloody nail-biting, cuticle-picking habits insult and disgust the customers and manicurists, but worse, they disgusted me. The whole beauty-ritual thing was rather depressing.
However, I'm here to report a change of heart. I've come to realize that as a grown woman, when it comes to my nail beds, I do whatever I want. It all started with one of my rather talented, amazingly bossy businesswoman friends turning me on to some knowledge.
While I'm no future CEO, I certainly pride myself on maintaining an air of professionalism. Whenever I have a question that pertains to keeping my "pro" status on point, I turn to her -- one of my best girlfriends -- for advice. She just so happens to have more business ventures, meetings and luncheons than most people I know. In other words, she's the Queen B of "making it happen."
One day, when asking for some advice on email phrasing and the like, I noticed that my friend was taking an absurd amount of time painting her nails. My first thought was that nobody has time for that -- especially her, whose only levels of functioning are "busy" and "crazy busy." Why even bother? Furthermore, aren't polished nails a literal sign that you have a lot of time on your hands?
That's when she laid down the law. She told me that the reason she paints her nails is because keeping your hands in good condition is key to good business. It's no secret that having a businesslike appearance connotes authority. Superficial as that sounds, proper dress is everything, from that starched oxford shirt all the way down to the polished power pumps. While I understood that, my friend explained to me that the same goes for grooming -- and that raggedy, dirty-looking hands do little to inspire confidence in a client, polish or no polish. I looked down at my own mitts and saw her point.
However, while having well-groomed hands may lead to better income, there are certain caveats. Press-ons, rhinestones and other such charms may not cut it in certain workplaces, for example. Allow me to hand you two extra tips, which I learned, um, firsthand:
Get rid of nasty nail habits and take care of yourself. Nobody needs to become a nail-art junkie; just lose the junk around your cuticles. Make sure you keep your hands tidy and well-moisturized. You don't need to pay for professional manicures (my friend doesn't). Just trim them regularly, don't bite them and use clear polish if you're short on time.
Keep your hands clean. This may sound redundant, but it's easy to forget to basic nail and hand upkeep. We do everything with our hands, and people notice dirty, unkempt digits. Ink leak on your hand? Scrub it off. Nail polish chipping? Apply some more or remove it altogether. You don't have to have girly hands to succeed, but your mitts do need to be presentable.