How many times have you seen a person and judged them strictly on their appearance? Or, how many times have you turned away or avoided someone simply because of their appearance? If you find yourself making judgments or avoiding people based on their appearance, you are missing out on opportunities to meet some potentially intelligent, interesting, and fascinating people. Below are some thoughts related to the advantages of looking beyond an individual’s outer or physical appearance.

1. Embrace diversity. Not everyone is going to look like you. Throughout your journey in life, you are going to meet all types of people. Some are tall, others are short. Some have curly hair, others have straight hair. Some are thin, others are overweight. Some are Caucasian, others are African-American or Hispanic or Asian. Try to look beyond the individual’s physical appearance to find out who they are. Even if you have never been around someone who looks different than you, keep an open mind. Instead of turning or walking away, make an effort to get to know the person. Become educated about different types of people, and their cultures and customs. The more educated you are, the less ignorant and more tolerant you will be.

2. Embrace individuality in the way others dress. You might like to dress professionally but you notice that one of your colleagues dresses casually. Instead of thinking that they are not as professional as you or are less educated or skilled, give them the benefit of the doubt. They might be more comfortable in casual attire, perhaps they cannot afford expensive clothing, or the way they dress may be related to their culture. If their culture dictates they dress a certain way, and you take the time to understand why this is the case, you will begin to expand your knowledge about different cultures and the symbolism behind certain types of clothing.

3. Understand what is behind a person's hygiene. When someone has a strong body odor, greasy hair, or dirty, wrinkled, or torn cloths, our first impulse may be to look away or get out of the person's path. However, make every attempt to look beyond the person's physical appearance. Perhaps they do not have money to purchase soap, shampoo or deodorant, or the money to wash their clothes. Instead of walking away, take the time to listen to their story. You may find out that they recently became homeless and have no money, or that they have a mental illness or brain injury and have fallen through the cracks in our healthcare and/or welfare system. If you allot time to inquire about a person's poor hygiene, you might be able to help them in some way, such as making a referral to an agency that could offer some assistance or support.

4. When you see a person with a disability, strive to look beyond the disability. Oftentimes, people are uncomfortable or distracted when they see someone who uses a wheelchair, has spasticity or jerky movements, uses a cane or interpreter, or uses a communication board to speak. People with disabilities are people first, and that is what they want you to focus on. As with people from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, make every attempt to learn about different types of disabilities. The more information you have, the less ignorant and more comfortable you will be in your encounters and interactions with persons with disabilities. We are all one step away from an accident or disability, so it is best that you educate yourself now about persons with disabilities and the wide variety of disabilities that exist today. As you become more comfortable in dealing with people with different needs, your focus will be less on the disability and more on the real person inside.

No matter what we look like, how we dress, how much attention we pay to our personal hygiene, or whether or not we have a disability, we all want people to see the person we are on the inside. Each of us has many unique gifts, talents, strengths, and skills that we want to share with other people. If you feel the same way and you don't want someone to judge you based on your outer appearance, make sure that you work on your fears, discomfort, and other issues that may be preventing you from meeting some exceptional people. The more comfortable you are in dealing with different types of people, the more you will begin to see the beauty within everyone.

Copyright 2010 © Sharon L. Mikrut, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

If you want to make positive changes in your professional life, and create the job or career you desire and deserve, then working with Executive & Life Coach, Sharon L. Mikrut, is the solution. Although her specialty is in partnering with nonprofit executive directors and managers to maximize their resources in a competitive environment, she is passionate about working with all individuals committed to personal and/or professional growth. Visit her website (, Nonprofit Professionals blog (, or Empowerment blog ( and sign up for her free nonprofit or life coaching newsletter.