I am not missing the irony of this post today. I decided to organize my closet...again... And realized that in my casual clothes, I have a couple pairs of jeans, and two shirts cuts in 5 different colors...and flip flops. You could probably turn me over to What Not To Wear, and I would make the cut...not something to be proud of...BUT when it comes to my daughter, I willingly utilize my clothes for power. Which brings us to the first of my Ten IEP Tips.
Number One Tip at the IEP Meetings:
Dress like you are in charge.
I know this sounds silly, but a lot of IEP power plays are mental. And the first power play is a power suit. I am not advocating that you wear a real suit, like the stereotypical interview suit...but a suit of clothes that calls for respect, and that makes you feel strong.
YOU CANNOT GO TO AN IEP IN YOUR YOGA PANTS AND WORKOUT SHIRT AND DEMAND RESPECT.
You are trying to sell your ideas to professionals. You have to dress like you are a professional.
There are two types. The one that makes you look like you are in charge. And the one that plays up your features.
The one that makes you look like you are in charge. By this, your dress clothes that are well-fitted, good jewelry, good accessories. You wear more formal clothes. Maybe even wear your church clothes: skirt, slacks, button shirts. You look visibly put together, even if you are feeling ragged and afraid of the meeting's outcome. You look like you are informed. You look like you can take the opposition. (Like a lawyer or a principal.) I usually choose this one the first meeting that I have with my child's teacher and/or their principal. I always choose this if I don't like the principal.
The other kind is to pick a few features that are striking. Ones that make you feel GOOD. You still have to dress like you are together, but you can play in a little bit more comfortable territory. In this world, more a business casual: chic jeans, collared top or blouse, high heels, or nice flats and a casual skirt...This version is as much a mental game with yourself as with those across the table. You are boosting your own confidence, like how you dress on a date that you really want to go well. I use this if I know and like everyone at the meeting. It invites their confidences, but it assures that you are still a force to be reckoned with.
I usually play the tall card. I am 5'8". I wear stack heels, and you can seriously play with other peoples' insecurity if you can throw out a bonus 3 inches. The power in looking down on someone cannot be overstated. I wear strong eye make-up, and no lipstick. I want my eyes to demand eye-contact. The clothes I wear depend on my mood. If I think that I may cry in a meeting, I wear my most uncomfortable shoes so I am hyper aware of my feet. I feel more aware of my feet than my emotions that way. Same goes for a scratchy sweater or uncomfortable clothes.
I make sure that I am as good as I can sell myself, so the people on the other side of the table cannot write me off at first glance.
First impressions are important. I am sorry, but we are all human, and we assess the competition at sporting events, in politics, and even at your kid's IEP meeting. And every little bit matters.