When you’re interacting with others, your facial expression has as much impact as what you’re saying–if not more.
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Example: When you speak to a group or direct a meeting, within a couple of minutes you can identify participants who are highly interested–and also those who appear bored, distracted, confused and sometimes even hostile.
Remember that your facial impression includes the eyes. Centuries ago Cicero said: “The eyes are windows to the soul.” Look away from your supervisor while you are reporting on a work assignment, and your shifty eyes might suggest you are hiding something. Blink excessively, you could appear insecure. More positively stated, maintain steady eye contact to reflect poise and credibility.
Beware of frowning. During a sales appointment a frown indicates to your prospect that you don’t feel good about the course of your presentation. That creates discomfort for both of you. Probably a lost sale opportunity too.
The most beneficial look: One that fits the tone of the meeting or conversation. Think of your favorite late night comedian (if you stay up that late). He or she could milk roaring laughter out of an ordinary joke merely by exaggerated facial expressions.
From the opposite viewpoint, a messenger who talks about life and death matters should not smirk. A solemn facial expression matches the message.
IN A GROUP, WHO WILL YOU SELECT TO MEET?
Next time you’re with a group of people you don’t know, pay special attention to their faces. I’ll bet the ones you will want to meet appear animated, with cheerful faces. Likewise, people will consider you attractive–even a leader–when you smile, nod in agreement and give other signs of warmth and openness.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE SMILING?
But you might wonder, “What if I don’t feel like smiling, looking joyful and positive?” Here’s good news. Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, cites research to show that your face can even create a mood, as well as reflect one. Start your day with a scowl, you’ll become sullen and angry. Start your day with a happy, confident face and an elevated outlook will follow.
Who could have guessed that the old adage “Fake it till you make it” has scientific backing?
In other words: Put your best face forward–every time.
COACHING HELPS YOU IMPROVE YOUR NONVERBAL MESSAGES
Here’s where videotaping comes in handy. I suggest you work with a communication coach in a Zoom session. Your coach will videotape a few minutes of conversation with you. Then the coach pinpoints what you need to do to make your demeanor more appealing. The resulting improvements generate more productive conversations, speeches, meetings and job interviews.
That’s one of the communication services I provide for clients as the “Biz Communication Guy.”