The Psychology of Color and How it Affects Your Work
Color affects everybody. Whether it’s fear or anxiety from the flashing red lights on an emergency vehicle, the warmth and calm from the orange glow of a sunset, or even the soothing mellow given off by a neutral taupe. In 2005, police in Nara, Japan swapped out the standard streetlights with blue and saw a 9 percent decrease in crime. Jurisdictions in Yokohama, Tokyo, and even Glasgow, Scotland have had similar results from introducing blue lights to their streets. What we see influences us in a variety of ways, and one of the easiest ways to subconsciously influence our co-workers or clients is to wear the right colors.
Psychologists who study the effects of different colors have determined that the color blue invokes feelings of trust and credibility, while also making you appear friendly. Similarly, lighter colors also make you seem congenial, so a mix of blues, greens, or even teal, would naturally draw people to you and give you an air of affability and approachability.
Understandably, the converse to this is the red spectrum. Red immediately draws attention to itself, but is most frequently associated with danger, so it can be a double-edged sword; you’ll certainly draw attention to yourself by wearing a strong red, but it may turn people off to you or make you appear intimidating.
If you work in sales or service, you’ll want to keep some green in your wardrobe, as the color denotes dependability. As the color of nature itself, green also implies natural tranquility, or even the refreshing renewal of spring, so you’ll be better represented to your clients or customers with at least a splash of green somewhere in your outfit.
Be very, very careful if you choose purple for your daily dress; as the mix of both red and blue, it initially represents uneasiness or unrest. Until you establish yourself with the person you’re speaking to, they’ll be inclined to be rather wary in your presence. Some would argue that because of its royal qualities purple is a positive color to be worn, but royalty has always been a mixed bag of both good and bad, so people will still be unsure of you (and let’s not forget the U.S.’s historical dislike of royalty).
Finally, harkening back to the days of Mad Men and martini lunches, dark or navy blue and dark grey scream “busy businessman”. They can be good for providing an easy air of professionalism, but they also have a tendency to age you, and can be extremely off-putting to the wrong audience.
Your wardrobe should be a reflection of you, but you’ll want to make sure that it’s a reflection of the right you; the you that is going to land the job or make the sale. Finding the right mix of complementary colors for your outfits is essential to your professional success, and will help you in your everyday life both in and out of the office.