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The Four Personalities and Business Attire

July 23, 2008

My System (INA) often spoke of people fitting into four personality quadrants. On tapes and in training sessions, the leaders would discuss how you to approach, prospect, and work with each type of person:

  • Drivers
  • Expressives
  • Amiables
  • Analyticals

Despite recognizing that people fit into one of four personalities, the Systems strongly encouraged uniformity when it came to business dress code. Men were told to wear slacks, jackets, shirts, and ties. Women were often told to wear skirts and dresses. They said that it was to display professionalism and authority, but personally, I always thought it was kind of hokey2. I realize it may be different elsewhere, but where I live, business casual (or sometimes even casual) rules the fashion roost.

Uniformity of dress (photo by Chris Potter)

Uniformity of dress (photo by Chris Potter)

When I saw a photo of Orrin Woodward’s TEAM members protesting outside of a courthouse last year, I had to laugh. I saw first-hand why people have such a strange impression of the typical Amway/Quixtar distributor. It’s the same strange feeling I got when I saw photos of the polygamist sect women from West Texas. They simply looked out of place. My System taught how to deal with different personalities, yet they pushed uniformity and duplication of dress among its members1.

If the opportunity is meant for people at all levels, shouldn’t they have a choice in how they want to present themselves with this business? In order to relate better to customers, prospects, and each other, why can’t IBOs be allowed to wear what they want?

What are other people’s opinions on the subject?

1 I understand that some Systems may be more relaxed when it comes to business attire.

2 Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind wearing a suit and looking sharp… at a wedding. Today, when I conduct business with clients, business casual (or even casual) works for all parties. That’s my kind of business. Your mileage may vary.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2008 5:24 pm

    Many groups use the personality types, and I have found the concepts to be very useful in this business and life in general.

    There is the DISC method, the Littauer model, etc., but they all boil down to the same thing.

    By the way, everyone is all 4 types, in varying degrees.

    You should watch some TV and watch how the politicians and business folks dress. This is the impression we are using. If you’re uncomfortable with this, dress your own way and go Diamond.

  2. July 23, 2008 6:47 pm

    I added a footnote to my post. I don’t mind wearing a suit. But in my line of work today, I much prefer the choice to wear what I want.

  3. July 23, 2008 9:16 pm

    In a job, sometimes you have a choice, sometimes you don’t. When I transferred to a company corporate headquarters location several years ago, a suit was mandatory. While I was there, they loosened it up.

    I’m not against not wearing a suit while showing the plan, just that business is often done in this manner. Many times it isn’t as well.

    With Amway, I think it is as much about finding out who is “pliable” as it is an image.

  4. Gina permalink
    July 24, 2008 7:59 am

    What is odd is that these are supposed to be Independent Business Owners, and while presenting yourself in a professional manner, dress included, is most often than not, necessary, why would they be so very specific? If the are Independent shouldn’t they choose their attire for each event and occasion?
    You can be professional without wearing a suit. In fact at my husband’s company, professional attire is a must, BUT, they would prefer it if they didn’t show up every day in a suit and tie for the simple fact that they want the suit and tie to have an impact. When everyone is dressed professionally everyday, without a suit and tie, then there is always an air of professionalism, but when there is an important presentation or meeting, or what have you and everyone is dressed in their tailored suits then the air changes to that of even more professionalism. It wouldn’t have the same effect if it was worn every day. The same goes for women. Dress can be professional without always being a skirt or dress, but when we do wear a shirt or dress, it makes the situation even that more important.

  5. July 24, 2008 10:25 am

    The dress guidelines are mainly for presenting the marketing plan or formal seminar settings for prospects, which fits your point about “important presentation or meeting” criteria.

    Another reason for being specific is it is based on “Dress for Success” guidelines that are generally accepted in the business world. Here’s a great reference that has NOTHING to do with A/Q:

    Note many of the illustrations have red ties, which is a color associated with power and authority, which is what we want to project.

    Also, if you give looser guidelines, such as off-white or light blue shirts, pretty soon it gets out of control, and many people are not very good at matching colors and patterns properly. It’s the KISS method.

  6. July 24, 2008 11:03 am


    You talk about analyzing a “marks” soft spots so you can tailor the deceit to fit the occasion. I think later on when I learned how I was viewed by the recruiter I’d feel offended.

  7. July 24, 2008 11:20 am


    You can use the same technique for honest and legitimate purposes.

  8. July 24, 2008 12:14 pm

    Yes, the skills for understanding and handling different personalities can be used for good and evil.

  9. Gina permalink
    July 24, 2008 11:46 pm

    Still supposed to be INDEPENDANT which to itself implies….well being INDEPENDANT, so really an IBO should choose for themselves how to dress. I have seen many an IBO not showing the plan, just meandering the mall, dressed in a suit. Hardly holding to keeping the importance of the meeting. Besides how freaking dressed up do you really need to be to sell Quixtar products?

  10. July 25, 2008 5:48 am

    It’s spelled INDEPENDENT.

    IBO’s can choose for themselves how to dress, the recommendations are meant to help them be more successful.

    I have never done mall contacting, but have never been taught to wear a coat and tie while contacting in a public area, unless it is what others are wearing. The guidelines are to dress one level above the typical dress, so in a mall this would probably be slacks and a polo/golf shirt, with dress shoes.

    If you can tell they are an IBO by looking at them, they obviously are too nervous to be effective, so it doesn’t matter how they are dressed. They would probably be better off just living their life dressed one level better than where they are, and contact others as the opportunities arise.

  11. Gina permalink
    July 25, 2008 8:41 am

    Oh no, I can’t tell they are IBO’s from looks, I can tell by what they are pitching. Either way, these guidelines for many many many an IBO seem to be more like a requirement…and that is my point.

  12. July 25, 2008 10:22 am

    As I said, not all IBO’s are taught to wear a suit and tie at the beach! 🙂


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