The Institute of Social and Economic Research recently published a study about the connection between popularity in high school and earning power later in life. New York magazine, information source to the rich and popular, summarized the study like this: “This study may seem to burst our Revenge of the Nerds fantasies, but it’s logical that people who are attractive, likable, and socially comfortable”?the class officers, the cheerleaders”?should get ahead in corporate settings.”
There is absolutely irrefutable data to support the idea that good-looking people do better in life than everyone else. Gordon Patzer, in his book, Looks, draws from a wide body of research to describe the advantaged life of a good-looking person from the time they are a baby (good-looking babies get better parenting) to the time they are in sales (the whole sales team performs better if there are more good-looking people on the team.)
As a result, I have jumped on the plastic surgery bandwagon. Super-smarty Chelsea Clinton got plastic surgery before she entered the work world. We should all do that. And while I haven’t taken my own advice, I do find myself pinching and pulling at my nose to see what it would look like after a $10,000 investment.
But wait. Before you take out a loan to straighten your nose, maybe you should just start thinking like a tall person. Being good-looking means having the right mix of a lot of things, and for you, being tall might be the final keystone to hold it all in place. (Wondering if you’re already tall? Fast Company has the answer: over 6’3″ for men and over 5’9″ for women, which, by the way, makes me half-an-inch into the land of the tall.)
Tall people make $789 more per inch per year, and are 90% more likely to ascend to the CEO chairs of Fortune 500 Companies, according to Arianne Cohen, author of The Tall Book. She scoured the sociology, psychology and workplace research to determine why tall people succeed (she herself is 6’3″). And Cohen discovered that the behaviors tall people display can be mimicked by anyone in order to get the career benefits of being tall.
Here’s what Cohen says to do, based on the research she’s gathered:
Be unforgettable. Due to evolutionary programming, when a tall guy walks into a meeting, everyone registers that he’s there, and remembers what he says. This is a huge boon for someone who’s also an ambitious, talented worker. So be noticeable. Figure out a way that when you walk in the room, everyone registers it. You can do that through interesting (but professional) clothing, cracking jokes when you walk in, etc.
Act like the boss. Tall children, from a very young age, are deemed the “leader” of their friends. Other little kids literally look up to them and often treat them as they would a slightly older child, and as a result, they’re more likely to function as the leader for the rest of their life. Even as interns, other office workers give them the physical space and attention usually reserved for a leader. So act like a leader.
Find a way to look down on coworkers. Literally. An eye cast down is a really powerful behavior — it’s the body’s way of signaling a power imbalance in your favor, and you can create that power imbalance with some attention to your positioning. Thus, stand whenever you can when coworkers are sitting, and avoid walk-and-talks and casual standing around the office where coworkers are looking down at you.
Guard your personal space. Close friends hold conversations 18″ apart; friends 2-3′ apart, and bosses and employees four feet apart. Coworkers naturally give tall people four-or-more feet, which means that from the beginning, they’re treated with boss-like reverence. You can mimic this body language — simply send out the physical vibe of professionalism, not chumminess, even in casual conversation. You’ll see that people step back, and give you more space.
Don’t be shy. Tall people often build an oversize personality to fit their oversize bodies. In the workplace tall people are more likely to yell or make demands or pull off a tongue-in-cheek toast to the boss. Socially, they take chances, and those chances are rewarded.
Focus on image rather than competence. Tall people aren’t actually better workers, but in surveys, their bosses think they are. Which means that though competence matters, the perception of competence matters much more. So stop spending so much time on your work, and start spending more time on this list of ways to look tall.