You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Resting Bitch Face”, mockingly ascribed to how someone holds a resting face that displays an unintendedly blunt message.
“RBF” has come up in several conversations recently and reminded me of the effect our facial expression can have on our impact. What is your face saying?
Everyone you meet is an untrained face-reader and will be making conscious and unconscious assumptions based on what they see. Without awareness your impact and influence may be enhanced or diminished.
Have issues from earlier led you to squeeze the muscles around your eyes? Are concerns about tomorrow’s meetings dropping your gaze or causing you to worryingly chew your cheek?
In the absence of knowing your full back story, those who see you will make best guess assumptions… to them you may look angry, anxious, grizzly, tense, uncertain, lost!
Your set of facial expressions are learned and habitual, if you want to enhance your impact and influence attitudes more positively some work may be required here.
First is the recognition phase – invite trusted colleagues to give you feedback on what they notice across the week. Get over your vanity inhibition and look at your face in the mirror to become more familiar with your range.
Next is the conscious phase – realizing that your facial expression is shifting to its habitual set-up you can interrupt the pattern!
Third is the deliberate phase – deciding what your facial expression will be. Still being authentic and true to how you are feeling and what impact you seek to have but not displaying potentially mis-interpretable messages.
Here are a few ideas that I have heard, worked on or noticed over the years:
· The sage-like nod – relaxed head position, gently nodding.
· Smile – often when concentrating your smile will go, bring it back!
· Remember Mr Miyagi’s advice from The Karate Kid - retain eye contact - looking at others’ eyes creates connection and can start a flow of information about them.
· Breathe – the first step to relaxing your facial muscles – frequently breathe consciously, take 3 or 4 deep, slow breaths.
You decide, be real, be you, have impact and keep it simple!