I have a thing about nails and by a thing, I mean, I can’t stand unkempt nails. For the longest time I thought it was just a weird thing I had, but it really disgusted me when I saw someone with unkempt, dirty nails or someone biting their nails. It sort of resembled the reaction most people have when they hear nails scratching a blackboard. It got me wondering if this is just my personal pet peeve or is it there more to it. Does a CEO lose some of their face value when showing up at a high stakes meeting with poorly maintained nails? Bear in mind, we’re not simply talking about female CEOs with chipped nail polish, but also male CEOs with bleeding cuticles, untrimmed nails or chewed to the bone nails.
It turns out I’m not the only one with a pet peeve for bad nails. Here are a few things I learned from surveying friends, family, CEOs, CFOs, VPs and other people in high power positions.
- Out of all the nail pet peeves, dirty nails are the biggest turnoff. Both men and women mentioned that they notice when someone has dirty nails and it’s always a turnoff whether in a personal or professional relationship.
- Women get judged harsher for it than men. No news here. A women with chipped nail polish or somewhat unkempt nails was viewed as a woman who doesn’t take care of herself or doesn’t have her life under control.
- People who are in positions that require them to use their hands are even more likely to have their nails noticed and be judged for the state of their nails. One of the VPs of Merchandising I spoke to mentioned that he always brings his latest product to high stakes meetings and always makes sure his hands and nails are in great shape when presenting the product. From his experience, showing a high value product with un-groomed hands lowers the product value and the likelihood of the other person appreciating the product at its full value.
- Well-groomed hands don’t always get noticed. Coco Chanel said “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” It’s the same idea with nails. Unless you’re a woman wearing an interesting or unusual nail polish color or design, all the effort you may have put in grooming your nails may go unnoticed. And that’s ok, because your well kept nails will add to your overall image and make the whole package, which is you, look put together.
Moral of the story – you don’t have to start getting mani-pedis every week, you don’t even need to start using nail polish on a regular basis, but making sure your nails are clean, trimmed and not looking like you spent all morning gnawing on them does make a good impression regardless of whom you encounter on your everyday life.