How much does appearance matter?

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bk1
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:38 pm

Yeah, I'm not so convinced how knowledgeable the average attorney or hiring partner will be on the handshake thing.

tasteofred
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby tasteofred » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:39 pm

LoriBelle wrote:
MJMD wrote:
goosey wrote:Other times, the person puts their hand out, and I put my hand to my chest and say "Im sorry, I dont shake hands," smile, and say hello--as you can imagine, this is MUCH more awkward. Not fun. And I always wind up feeling like I offended the person.


That's because you did.

Why is this offensive? Plenty of people don't believe in touching the opposite sex. Granted, I'm not one of them, but honestly, why is this so offensive? In a lot of circles, it's considered impolite for a man to extend his hand to a woman for a handshake anyway (and yes, I'm talking about for non-religious reasons). If the woman is kind and conversant with the person involved, why would he be offended that she didn't want to touch him? Surely the headcovering gives away something about her beliefs and lifestyle, so it's not like it's something personal against the man involved. I don't get this line of reasoning that it's offensive at all.


Isn't the whole point of not touching men limiting temptation, or something along those lines? I'm a female, but if men didn't want to touch me because they thought it would automatically make me want their dick, I'd be offended.

dakatz
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby dakatz » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:40 pm

Without getting into any sort of religious debate, I'm all for "doing as the Romans do". When I was in Japan, I bowed to people. When in Argentina, I kissed on the cheek. In America, I shake hands. To ignore the cultural expectation of any of these places is sure to offend people, regardless of the reason.

Pearalegal
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Pearalegal » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:41 pm

dakatz wrote:Without getting into any sort of religious debate, I'm all for "doing as the Romans do". When I was in Japan, I bowed to people. When in Argentina, I kissed on the cheek. In America, I shake hands. To ignore the cultural expectation of any of these places is sure to offend people, regardless of the reason.


This is a fair point. To be honest, I'm not really sure what the shaking hands reasoning is. Goosey, mind enlightening me? I might be able to understand it better.

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dominkay
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby dominkay » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:43 pm

bk1 wrote:Yeah, I'm not so convinced how knowledgeable the average attorney or hiring partner will be on the handshake thing.


Yeah, I wouldn't bet $150k on it.

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bk1
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:44 pm

tasteofred wrote:Isn't the whole point of not touching men limiting temptation, or something along those lines? I'm a female, but if men didn't want to touch me because they thought it would automatically make me want their dick, I'd be offended.


As a complete outsider to Islamic culture I would assume it is the other way around, in that it seems that everything is done to curb the male libido at the expense of women's choices. But as noted, I know nothing of it firsthand.

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bk1
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:44 pm

dominkay wrote:
bk1 wrote:Yeah, I'm not so convinced how knowledgeable the average attorney or hiring partner will be on the handshake thing.


Yeah, I wouldn't bet $150k on it.


FWIW, OP has a full ride to BLS.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby MJMD » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:45 pm

LoriBelle wrote:
MJMD wrote:
goosey wrote:Other times, the person puts their hand out, and I put my hand to my chest and say "Im sorry, I dont shake hands," smile, and say hello--as you can imagine, this is MUCH more awkward. Not fun. And I always wind up feeling like I offended the person.


That's because you did.

Why is this offensive? Plenty of people don't believe in touching the opposite sex. Granted, I'm not one of them, but honestly, why is this so offensive? It's considered impolite for a man to extend his hand to a woman for a handshake anyway. If the woman is kind and conversant with the person involved, why would he be offended that she didn't want to touch him? Surely the headcovering gives away something about her beliefs and lifestyle, so it's not like it's something personal against the man involved. I don't get this line of reasoning that it's offensive at all.


I think the handbook of etiquette whereby it is impolite for a man to extend his hand to a woman for a handshake went out of print sometime before World War I. Certainly before they started letting women practice law. The remaining copies were probably burned by feminists in the 1970s.


Refusing to shake hands with someone is rude under any circumstances. Such refusal can be made for the express purpose of being rude (the most common scenario, and the one that will register in the minds of 99% of people who have the experience), or else it implies that the person offering their hand is somehow diseased, untouchable, or inferior.

I have no doubt that there are law offices staffed by Orthodox Jews where such practices are commonplace: I also don’t doubt that the issue of refusing to shake an offered hand almost never comes up at these firms, because 99% of their clients are of the same ethnic, social, and religious background, and so do not offer their hands in situations when they know they will not be accepted. If the OP is willing to accept the limited career opportunities that will remain available after she has ghettoized herself in this way, then she should not have a problem.

As others have mentioned, those Orthodox Jewish women who work in mainstream environments, and only shake hands when one is extended by the other party, appear to be making a reasonable compromise. In this case the “fault” is with the one offering the handshake: but I’m sure even the most modern rules of etiquette will tell you that the faults of well-intentioned clients and business associates, like those of dinner guests, should be pardoned and excused without being remarked upon.

If the OP expects to continually refuse handshakes from hiring partners and senior associates and clients at a major law firm, in North America, that both employs and serves people from different walks of life, without arousing the resentment or even fury of those around her, then she is kidding herself. Appearances shouldn’t matter, but actions are everything.
Last edited by MJMD on Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Pearalegal
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Pearalegal » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:46 pm

dominkay wrote:
bk1 wrote:Yeah, I'm not so convinced how knowledgeable the average attorney or hiring partner will be on the handshake thing.


Yeah, I wouldn't bet $150k on it.


Erm, well, I wouldn't go that far...but not shaking hands and wearing modest clothing seems to be on two different levels for me, especially when it comes to business. At that point, you're risking confusing coworkers, employers and clients. I don't remember ever having my hand turned down at work, just social functions, which is a little different. What is the reasoning?

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Waterman47 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:47 pm

I'm blanking, is BLS Brooklyn Law School?

And I don't think steering the convo in the direction of OP's reasoning for not shaking hands is constructive. Not that people are being rude about it - quite the contrary - but I just don't think it's necessary to go down that path.

The hand-shake issue is another really tough one, though. Ahmadinejad didn't shake hands with a female dignitary and he was clowned for it for months. Many, many Muslims just "do as the Romans do" as another poster said, and shake hands to avoid awkwardness if someone extends first. I worked at the UN and the ambassador I worked for never extended to women, but always shook if extended to.

Just a thought.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby goosey » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:50 pm

Pearalegal wrote:
dakatz wrote:Without getting into any sort of religious debate, I'm all for "doing as the Romans do". When I was in Japan, I bowed to people. When in Argentina, I kissed on the cheek. In America, I shake hands. To ignore the cultural expectation of any of these places is sure to offend people, regardless of the reason.


This is a fair point. To be honest, I'm not really sure what the shaking hands reasoning is. Goosey, mind enlightening me? I might be able to understand it better.



Its just not permissable to have any physical contact with a person of the opposite gender, aside from immediate family (father, brothers, husband, father-in-law, uncles, nephews, etc)--it is not necessarily because there is an expectation that if you shake somebody's hand you will automatically want to have their babies. There's just a line thats there and a level of modesty between men and women--and avoiding physical contact is part of that.

and to answer the earlier question: bk1 is right about where I'll be going to school, so not much worry about wasting money since I'm not paying for it. Mostly just worried about wasting my time and hard work

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:50 pm

Waterman47 wrote:I'm blanking, is BLS Brooklyn Law School?

And I don't think steering the convo in the direction of OP's reasoning for not shaking hands is constructive. Not that people are being rude about it - quite the contrary - but I just don't think it's necessary to go down that path.

The hand-shake issue is another really tough one, though. Ahmadinejad didn't shake hands with a female dignitary and he was clowned for it for months. Many, many Muslims just "do as the Romans do" as another poster said, and shake hands to avoid awkwardness if someone extends first. I worked at the UN and the ambassador I worked for never extended to women, but always shook if extended to.

Just a thought.


Yes to your first question.

Though I think that the handshake thing is tangentially relevant to the OP. The OP asked whether she should break some of her beliefs (mainly the clothes and handshake things) to help get her a job or if she should stick to them and accept what she gets.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Waterman47 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:52 pm

BTW OP, since you mentioned working on Congress, a great group to contact would be the Congressional Muslim Staffers. I think that's what they're called, it's something along those lines. They're mostly young Muslims trying to rise through the ranks of Capitol Hill, so I think they would have some valuable opinions about this issue. Maybe more so than an MSA.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby dakatz » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:55 pm

bk1 wrote:
Waterman47 wrote:I'm blanking, is BLS Brooklyn Law School?

And I don't think steering the convo in the direction of OP's reasoning for not shaking hands is constructive. Not that people are being rude about it - quite the contrary - but I just don't think it's necessary to go down that path.

The hand-shake issue is another really tough one, though. Ahmadinejad didn't shake hands with a female dignitary and he was clowned for it for months. Many, many Muslims just "do as the Romans do" as another poster said, and shake hands to avoid awkwardness if someone extends first. I worked at the UN and the ambassador I worked for never extended to women, but always shook if extended to.

Just a thought.


Yes to your first question.

Though I think that the handshake thing is tangentially relevant to the OP. The OP asked whether she should break some of her beliefs (mainly the clothes and handshake things) to help get her a job or if she should stick to them and accept what she gets.


I can't see what the point would be of going to law school if one is going to restrict themselves to such an extent. If I remember correctly, the OP is the same person who turned down Fordham for Brooklyn due to the Muslim belief that one cannot be indebted (please correct me if I am wrong). However, Brooklyn was a good fallback option that allowed OP to keep with her religious beliefs and still go to a good school in a no-debt situation. Refusing to shake hands leaves you with no fallback options. You get one chance at first impressions and don't want to leave a trail of burned bridges for the sole reason that they were offended by your gesture, or lack thereof.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Pearalegal » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:58 pm

goosey wrote:
Pearalegal wrote:
dakatz wrote:Without getting into any sort of religious debate, I'm all for "doing as the Romans do". When I was in Japan, I bowed to people. When in Argentina, I kissed on the cheek. In America, I shake hands. To ignore the cultural expectation of any of these places is sure to offend people, regardless of the reason.


This is a fair point. To be honest, I'm not really sure what the shaking hands reasoning is. Goosey, mind enlightening me? I might be able to understand it better.



Its just not permissable to have any physical contact with a person of the opposite gender, aside from immediate family (father, brothers, husband, father-in-law, uncles, nephews, etc)--it is not necessarily because there is an expectation that if you shake somebody's hand you will automatically want to have their babies. There's just a line thats there and a level of modesty between men and women--and avoiding physical contact is part of that.


Okie dokie, and please don't take my question at all negatively, but you've obviously had experience in awkward situations that arise from this--have you ever felt like they negatively impacted your employment chances or standing at the firm? Seems like you've done just fine. If not, then whooo!!! I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Gotta say though, if a dude refused to shake my hand, I'd probably be terrified to do something wrong whenever I worked with him, haha. I'm impressed that you've been social adept enough to make male/female working relationships go smoothly. I'd probably make an ass out of myself.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby ruski » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:59 pm

i also think OP will face trouble. and you cant really compare to orthodox jews. orthodox jews who work in biglaw are not the type that dont shake hands. the jews who are that strict would never even work in a biglaw environment as it is against their belief to devote more time than necessary to work (as it takes away time from study). i highly doubt their are orthodox jews who dont shake hands heading any departments, as one poster mentioned.


a muslim girl with just a headscarf is about equivalent to a modern orthodox jew who just wears a kippa but otherwise interacts normally. no huge deal if both want to work in biglaw.

but a muslim girl with with an abayah who wants to work in biglaw is like a hasidic jew (with curls, a long black beard, and a black hat) who wants to work in biglaw. i think it will just be too difficult.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:59 pm

dakatz wrote:I can't see what the point would be of going to law school if one is going to restrict themselves to such an extent. If I remember correctly, the OP is the same person who turned down Fordham for Brooklyn due to the Muslim belief that one cannot be indebted (please correct me if I am wrong). However, Brooklyn was a good fallback option that allowed OP to keep with her religious beliefs and still go to a good school in a no-debt situation. Refusing to shake hands leaves you with no fallback options. You get one chance at first impressions and don't want to leave a trail of burned bridges for the sole reason that they were offended by your gesture, or lack thereof.


I'm not so sure that "refusing to shake hands leaves you with no fallback options" because the fallback option would be a job where the employer did not mind or that the perceived slight was not enough to stop the person from getting a job. Yes it will severely limit you, but it isn't damning enough to ban you from all employment.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Waterman47 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:01 pm

Pearalegal wrote:
goosey wrote:
Pearalegal wrote:
dakatz wrote:Without getting into any sort of religious debate, I'm all for "doing as the Romans do". When I was in Japan, I bowed to people. When in Argentina, I kissed on the cheek. In America, I shake hands. To ignore the cultural expectation of any of these places is sure to offend people, regardless of the reason.


This is a fair point. To be honest, I'm not really sure what the shaking hands reasoning is. Goosey, mind enlightening me? I might be able to understand it better.



Its just not permissable to have any physical contact with a person of the opposite gender, aside from immediate family (father, brothers, husband, father-in-law, uncles, nephews, etc)--it is not necessarily because there is an expectation that if you shake somebody's hand you will automatically want to have their babies. There's just a line thats there and a level of modesty between men and women--and avoiding physical contact is part of that.


Okie dokie, and please don't take my question at all negatively, but you've obviously had experience in awkward situations that arise from this--have you ever felt like they negatively impacted your employment chances or standing at the firm? Seems like you've done just fine. If not, then whooo!!! I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Gotta say though, if a dude refused to shake my hand, I'd probably be terrified to do something wrong whenever I worked with him, haha. I'm impressed that you've been social adept enough to make male/female working relationships go smoothly. I'd probably make an ass out of myself.


It's different in OP's case, because most people would understand that there is some relation between her dress and her hand-shake policy. If she was dressed "normally" and refused to shake hands, it'd be different. So in that sense, I'm not sure that the hand-shake issue adds to the problem that much. Most would understand it to be an extension of the dress that they surely would have noticed. If they viewed her dress negatively, it wouldn't matter too much if she did shake hands. If they didn't view her dress negatively, a refusal to shake hands wouldn't create problems IMO.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Pearalegal » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:07 pm

Waterman47 wrote:It's different in OP's case, because most people would understand that there is some relation between her dress and her hand-shake policy. If she was dressed "normally" and refused to shake hands, it'd be different. So in that sense, I'm not sure that the hand-shake issue adds to the problem that much. Most would understand it to be an extension of the dress that they surely would have noticed. If they viewed her dress negatively, it wouldn't matter too much if she did shake hands. If they didn't view her dress negatively, a refusal to shake hands wouldn't create problems IMO.


I realize I'm coming off totally ignorant here, but guys can shake a females hand? I was assuming it went both ways. Wouldn't it have to?
Last edited by Pearalegal on Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dakatz
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby dakatz » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:07 pm

It's different in OP's case, because most people would understand that there is some relation between her dress and her hand-shake policy. If she was dressed "normally" and refused to shake hands, it'd be different. So in that sense, I'm not sure that the hand-shake issue adds to the problem that much. Most would understand it to be an extension of the dress that they surely would have noticed. If they viewed her dress negatively, it wouldn't matter too much if she did shake hands. If they didn't view her dress negatively, a refusal to shake hands wouldn't create problems IMO.


I know MANY people who would use that as extra reinforcement for their unfairly negative perception of Muslims. Seems like its lose lose either way. If they don't see the outfit, and you refuse to shake hands, you undoubtedly offend them. If they see the outfit and you then refuse, sure, some people will let it slip. But many others, especially older folks who may not be as open minded, may then associate that lack of respect with the fact that you are Muslim. Just seems so risky.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Waterman47 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:09 pm

Pearalegal wrote:
Waterman47 wrote:It's different in OP's case, because most people would understand that there is some relation between her dress and her hand-shake policy. If she was dressed "normally" and refused to shake hands, it'd be different. So in that sense, I'm not sure that the hand-shake issue adds to the problem that much. Most would understand it to be an extension of the dress that they surely would have noticed. If they viewed her dress negatively, it wouldn't matter too much if she did shake hands. If they didn't view her dress negatively, a refusal to shake hands wouldn't create problems IMO.


I realize I'm coming off totally ignorant here, but guys can shake a females hand? I was assuming it went both ways. Wouldn't it have to?


No, I've always known it to go both ways. Didn't mean to imply that it doesn't. A Muslim guy observing strict Muslim teachings would refuse handshakes with the opposite gender.

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bk1
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:10 pm

dakatz wrote:I know MANY people who would use that as extra reinforcement for their unfairly negative perception of Muslims. Seems like its lose lose either way. If they don't see the outfit, and you refuse to shake hands, you undoubtedly offend them. If they see the outfit and you then refuse, sure, some people will let it slip. But many others, especially older folks who may not be as open minded, may then associate that lack of respect with the fact that you are Muslim. Just seems so risky.


It is risky, I don't think anybody is implying it isn't. The question is whether that risk (which will cost job opportunities) is high enough to justify breaking a belief that matters to the OP.

09042014
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby 09042014 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:10 pm

bk1 wrote:
dominkay wrote:
bk1 wrote:Yeah, I'm not so convinced how knowledgeable the average attorney or hiring partner will be on the handshake thing.


Yeah, I wouldn't bet $150k on it.


FWIW, OP has a full ride to BLS.


Oh, then the question is irrelevant, BLS students don't go on interviews.

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cinefile 17
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby cinefile 17 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:10 pm

goosey wrote:lol..everyone always thinks im a guy on tls for some reason


I know. I think everybody on TLS is assumed to be a guy unless they have a really girly avatar.

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby MJMD » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:12 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
bk1 wrote:FWIW, OP has a full ride to BLS.


Oh, then the question is irrelevant, BLS students don't go on interviews.


LOL, Desert Fox, I never thought I'd be so happy to see you show up in a thread. Keep keeping it real!




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