Fix your face

“She was not one for emptying her face of expression.” JD Salinger


Have you ever walked through a large group of people and noticed how facial expressions reflect the mood of the crowd?

At sporting events BEFORE the competition starts, there's almost always bright eyes, broad smiles, and happy countenances. Of course, after the game there's a big contrast between the winners and losers. At the airport, everyone looks tense and unhappy and on city streets most faces reflect a general "leave me alone" stand-offish glare.

If you pay attention, you can drill past the group emotion and find every possible "facial cast" on an individual level: happy, sad, confused, amused, irritated, bored, angry, despondent.

However, what's harder to see is the message you're sending yourself.

I once had a colleague who wore every emotion on her face and it was as distracting as if she were yelling, "Are you CRAZY??"  I have another friend who loves to play the cool guy and rarely changes his expressions while people are telling stories; it's as if engaging his face in the discussion would make him too vulnerable.

In my own similar sphere of dysfunction, when I'm distracted or thinking about something other than the people in front of me, my facial expressions appear out of step with my immediate situation. This leads to all kinds of misunderstandings.

What we all need to remember is we are constantly communicating SOMETHING with the expression on our face.

Are you aware of what you're saying?

If not, ask some brave soul to tell you. What is your facial cast?

Do you look sour or sweet? Do you appear bored or interested? Warm or cold? Engaged or aloof?

It's worth figuring out if you need to fix your face in order to improve your relationships.