Indy Style

What facial expressions say about you

Facial expressions are powerful non-verbal cues and convey strong messages. Even when you wish they didn’t. RBF, or Resting B Face, occurs when a person’s default facial expression is perceived as being slightly angry, annoyed, or contemptuous. It is usually characterized by mouth slightly downturned, eyes may be narrowed, and the chin may jut out a little. People who suffer from RBF may be asked frequently if they are OK or if they are mad and may be on the receiving end of, “You should smile more!” comments from well-meaning friends and colleagues.

So, how do you know if your default expression falls on the unfortunate side of RBF? Body Language Expert Lisa Mitchell says realistically, multiple people have made you aware of the fact on several occasions. Another way to bring awareness to it is to watch yourself on video and see how you perceive your inactive or neutral expressions when you view them on video. Most people who have RBF see it reflected in videos or photos of themselves and are more than a little surprised, or appalled, by the fact their face conveys such an unintended negative message.

What can you do if you gain the awareness that RBF is your default facial expression? Here are a few tips that may help you be perceived in a more positive light:

• Adopt a new “default” facial expression: The best way to find your new default expression is to practice in a mirror or recording yourself until you find a “neutral” expression that feels natural and looks pleasant to the people on the other side of your face. Practice that expression until it feels normal as your default and comes automatically when needed.

• Be “on” before you’re on: If you’re listening to someone else speak, waiting your turn in line, or in another inactive role for a moment before it’s your turn to step into the spotlight, decide to engage early. Commit to a smile or show a more active expression than a blank stare or intent listening face, it’s during these down times where RBF seems to appear most frequently. This is especially important for instances where you are on camera. It helps to be an active listener, using head nods, smiles, etc to show you are engaged and let the natural facial expression follow.

When in doubt, fix your face! Put on a genuine smile and kiss RBF goodbye!

To learn more about Lisa Mitchell, Power Body Language, visit:

@powernonverbals on