Several years ago, I used to experience this phenomenon where I would be sitting in a meeting, listening to my colleagues discuss a project or campaign, and someone would invariably turn to me and say “Are you okay?” Alternately, someone would approach me after the meeting to see what was wrong, because apparently I had looked “irritated” during the meeting. I had simply been thinking, considering possible future outcomes of the proposed project. I wasn’t upset, irritated, mad or negative about the idea. I was just thinking.
It occurred to me that my resting, thinking expression was not as passive as I might have thought. My look of concentration or focus was leading people to believe I was angry or annoyed. This was NOT the impression I wanted people to have of me. But what to do when this is my face? It’s not a conscious expression, it’s JUST. MY. FACE.
I doubt Mckayla Maroney was as irritated as she appeared during every single Olympics broadcast…but it did bring us some of the best memes in history.
I started to work on it. Every few minutes I would check in and notice that my brow was furrowed. I started to practice a more passive expression, even with the occasional slight smile. Maybe even a “smize” a la Tyra Banks. I made a conscious effort to change my resting face without taking my focus away from the meeting’s discussion. Minimal adjustments, around the same time I shift my seating position or posture, to unfurrow my forehead or relax my mouth. Not to mention that I want to stop that line between my brows from becoming permanently entrenched…one can dream, right?
Slowly I had to think about it less, and it became almost unconscious. While I’m sure I might still look annoyed during certain meetings, I rarely get called out anymore.
And then some days, in some meetings, I am just annoyed. It happens.
Do you have RBF?