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While some people navigate life with “Resting Bitch Face” I have the less commonly talked about “Smiling All The Time Face”!!! 

A couple of years ago I was delivering a client presentation.  After, as I was in the corridor on my way to get my congratulatory shot of coffee, a colleague came up to me and said “great job, but stop smiling!  You’re presenting on important subjects so why are you smiling all the time?”  I went home heart broken (I think I even ditched the coffee).   My ego was bruised & sore as I took it personally.  What I didn’t see then, that I know now for sure, was she was being an incredible ALLY and supporter.  She was telling me what no one else had: that my incessant smile was distracting from my message and affecting its impact!  Her feedback was in fact a gift (ps thank you dear Ally!).

This week the universe delivered the message again. But I arrived to it sweating and a bit moany.  As the very last thing I felt like doing that day was pulling up my chair in my stifling hot, airless home office to don my headset for a two-hour training session on “Your Impact in Virtual Meetings”. Then again, what’s the saying: you don’t always get what you want, but you might just get what you need?!  The wonderful teacher from RADA Business School “got me” in 60 seconds flat (look, I’m even smiling as he teaches us how to open up our jaw!).  “You have built up a habit of smiling as you deliver what you need to say, but you’re losing impact by doing so”… ouch.  

Yes. Straight to it, again.   In fact, my seemingly innocent smile, I thought was creating connection and rapport, might instead have the insidious impact of making people think I’m hiding something, I’m being flippant or insincere.  Yikes. I was now getting this at a deeper level. 

He asked me what was important in my role at work: “for people to feel reassured, confident in me”… OK he said, “think of bringing and giving reassurance through your presentation.  What would that look and sound like”?  THIS intention setting shifted everything!  From the choice & pace of my words, to my hand gestures, and, yes my face, which calmed down!   I was not just relying on my smile to try and convince people (and myself!) that “everything is ok”.   My energy was now focused and authentic and then lined up so much better with my words and actions.

So what to do about all this smiling??

I’ve decided that ahead of every meeting or presentation I’m going to write down (on one of my beloved, ginormous, bright post-it notes) my one word intention for being there. What feeling do I want to convey?  Reassurance, certainty, support, compassion, confidence, kindness, encouragement, clarity? 

If I can do this and “get out ahead of it” even before I open my mouth to speak, what impact could I have then? 

Let’s see.

PS I’m still smiling, just with a bit more thought! 😊

PSS I think Jacinda Ardern does this really well!  I’m going to be studying her Facebook Lives!


Lauren  x

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