Bianca, a student at Penn State, in our final runner up in the SweatBlock Social Confidence Scholarship. She writes about the effect of on working professionals.
Some of the personal information has been redacted for privacy.
In November, I earned a six month internship with the world’s leading global packaging company called, . From January to June, I worked in the sourcing group with three other co-ops, one being another Penn Stater. His name was Nathan, nicknamed “the swimmer,” for several reasons. Nathan representated young apsiring leaders who consistantly exercise phenomenal work ethic. Prior to his internship, Nathan made the dean’s list – as do I – taught swim lessons, and swam competitively at a division one level. At , he was one of few who arrived early and stayed late while the others made it their objective to escape a few minutes early each day. He further built his brand by demonstrating great discipline outside of work. Sourcing managers immediately recognized Nathan’s dedication to health by discovering his routinely exercise hours – before and after work. Despite all remarkable characteristics, I couldn’t help but believe he felt less assured than the others during our three mandated report outs which took place during the six months of us being there. Thirty minutes before each presentation, fifty sourcing people would filter in the room. Every presentation, I took note of the sweat forming on his brow and feeling the moist pointer when he would pass off the presentation to me soon as it was my turn to speak. These are one of those moments where confidence matters as much as competence. As a business professional, you have to speak in public – whether it being a presentation designed to sell a particular product, building a business case for the need for another software, or delivering a messages to improve the public’s perception of the organization. Business presentations are frequently interrupted which made Nathan perspire more. At his starting point of 32 “ums,” it was safe to say I myself felt Nathan was struggling to come across as confident.
Sweating is a very healthy, normal occurrence. I’m not agreeing its right for Nathan to be judged because of his perspiration. However, sweating has been directly correlated with nervousness, illness, and even personal instability which are characteristics that ought to be of concern. A leader is one who can be trusted and strong. If Nathan wishes to continue on the path to be a successful business leader, he must put forth the same effort to limit his seemingly physical flaws. During a negotiation, an individual can easily lose all credibility by sweating profusely in a comfortable cool room. However, this is a very solvable problem. Thanks to many skilled and innovative companies, there are a growing number of available specialized products that cater to highly sensitive sweaters, like Nathan. Clinical strength products are exclusively offered for treating hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating. Becoming an effective presenter takes sweat however, it will be in everyone’s best interest if the anxious sweating is taken care of beforehand. I’m not stating that my colleague was incompetent however in order to be successful, believing in oneself is paramount. Because –when you don’t – it will show.