Wearing Clothes Inside-Out to the Office
Norms refers to the expected standards of behavior that the society expects its individuals to uphold. Social norms determine appropriate conduct and behavior from inappropriate behaviors. Norms outline actions that are appropriate from those that are not appropriate (Hechter, 2005). When an individual violates a social norm, negative reaction it expected. It is through the negative action that an individual is supposed to pick the cue that the action he is undertaking is not normal. For this assignment, I choose to engage in a norm violation exercise so as to determine the reaction of those around me. The norm violation exercise that I undertook entailed going to the office with my official wear worn inside-out.
Prior to violating the norm I informed my boss of my intention and the reason for violating the selected norm. I woke up that morning with a degree of skepticism of the success of my project. Ordinarily, it is the norm that corporate employees go to work decently dressed in a suit or any formal attire. It is also the norm that appropriate dressing is wearing any casual or formal clothing with the inside part of the clothing next to the body. I was certain to cause a stir if I went to the office with my clothes inside-out. I was unsure of the lasting impression that my colleague might make after the project. However, I woke up early, prepared, wore my suit inside out, got into my car and drove to the office. Stepping out of my automobile, I was aware I had worn my clothes different. The shoulder pads were visible, and the seam of the coat and trouser was exposed to all.
My first encounter with an employee of the company was the entrance when I met the security guard. The guard’s facial expression said a thousand words. He gave me two glances appearing to wonder if I was aware of my dressing accident. However, he chose not to question me and allowed me to pass. As I moved towards my desk, it was clear that my dressing was abnormal. My colleague began to murmur among themselves, and those that had not seen me arrive began to pass by my office more than usual. As I walked by going about my errands, I could hear some colleague giggle and swear that I was going crazy.
One of my friends finally gathered the courage to approach me and point out the abnormal fact of my dressing. However, I shrugged her opinion and went about my work. Another friend approached me and asked whether I was alright since I had not noticed my abnormal dressing the whole day. Another colleague approached me and offered to take me to eh bathroom and help me change my clothes. When I objected and said I was comfortable, she did not hesitate to point the acceptable dress code of the office and the fact that my dressing violated that code.
Other colleagues showed genuine concern for me and assumed I was suffering from a psychological problem. They tried to enquire whether I was alright and what could be stressing me. They even offered to contact a relative to take me home in case I was feeling unwell. However, I assured them I was alright. My surety, however, appeared to make the situation worse as other began to assume that I had actually gone mad and that I was simply in denial. During lunch break, most of my colleague avoided walking or talking to me as they were unsure of my mental status. I sat at a lunch table, quietly ate my lunch and reported back to my workstation. In the evening, I packed my briefcase and left the office having completed my assignment.
The violation of norm experiment revealed that norms are the rules that determine what is normal or abnormal in the society. Dressing inside-out is considered an abnormal act based on the fact that social norms stipulate the proper way to dress. This explains the various perceptions by my colleague that I could be ill, stress or with a mental problem. The exercise made me realize that I actually mind what people say about me. I thus adhere to societal norms because I prefer to fit rather than stand out as the misfit (Hechter, 2005). The exercise also made me realize that the society is always quick to jump to conclusions based on the norms of the society. Majority of my colleague had negative comments and perceptions of my dressing rather than showing genuine concern. Overall, the assignment was eye opening on how societal norms structure the thinking of individuals within the society. Societal norms dictate that and a particular action is acceptable, and another is not acceptable. Individuals thus rely, on these norms to determine proper conduct from misconduct. Such determinations are made without considering other factors that may contribute to a particular norm violation.
Hechter, M. (2005). Social norms. Russell Sage foundation