From ankle socks to sticking your nose into other people's business: Some wise words from Jackie Elliot

Fashion faux pas

The problem with "invisible socks" is that they refuse to be invisible – a nasty little line of something stretchy winds its way around the bottom of your ankle, all the more visible for trying to be invisible. Not a good look.

And we are approaching peak blister window: that time of the year when sandals are dragged from the back of the cupboard for the first sunny Monday – resulting in bleeding heels and raw toes by the time you get to Soho Square. Another look to avoid.

Smart matters

It's so much easier to be smart in winter. Does smart matter? Yup. Are ankle bands and Band-Aid just a detail? Probably, but getting detail right is the only way to get the big picture right. All the time and effort in the world counts for nothing if a detail goes wrong to undermine the whole affair.

Too many likes

I met an immensely smart young person earlier this year, who wanted some work experience in a PR firm. The first telephone conversation nearly ended the enterprise when every sentence was punctuated by Like. Like, friends had recommended public relations, like. And like, well you know, it was something they wanted to, like, try.

Even allowing for nerves and the youth of the candidate, I thought I would be failing our profession to let them out into the world with this verbal impairment. Like (sic) instantly correcting a feeble handshake, speaking out to help a newcomer to the business get the details right, is a gesture of solidarity and support. It doesn't have to be brutal or traumatic: gently but firmly delivered, perhaps with a personal anecdote, you can help others to grow and improve.

Be honest now

That's another reason why on-the-spot appraisal is so important. If you wait for six months to tell someone that their oral hygiene is dodgy or their writing needs work, that person has to look back on six whole months of personal grief and regret. If something is not right, correct it. In private and in the context of "making you as good as you can be". If it's your boss who needs help, make sure you are working for an organisation where 360° appraisals are the order of the day.

Style counsel

Trying on a bunch of clothes the other day and clearly disliking what I saw in the shop's mirror, someone I had never met who was just on her way out, said: "You're mad if you don't buy those jeans". She was so genuine and non-judgemental that I paid attention. Turned out she was a stylist and 15 minutes later I'd had some really worthwhile advice and a much-admired new look.

Sticking your nose into other people's business if you know they are making a mistake? Sharing good advice? Having the benefit of someone else's experience?

I like it.

Written by Jackie Elliot, CEO of communications firm Cathcart Consulting

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