I once worked for a boss who required everyone to put on a “good meeting face” during team meetings. And I’ll admit the first time I heard this, I struggled to wipe a smirk off my own face. But did you know that a significant amount of our communication with others is understood through the non-verbal cues we give – like our facial expressions? In fact according to Psychology Today, when words and non-verbal communication don’t match up, people tend to interrupt the meaning based more on the non-verbal cues we send than what we’re actually saying. So it turns out, my boss’s advice to pay close attention to what my facial expression was right and it’s stuck with me for a long time. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of meeting faces.
The Don’ts: Meeting Faces to Avoid
- Don’t frown – It may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people unconsciously frown during meetings. Frowning sends the message you don’t approve of something or you’re unhappy. So as the saying goes, don’t forget to turn that frown upside down.
- Don’t squint– Squinting can be a hard expression to read. When you furrow your brows it can convey a look of shock or confusion.
- Don’t stare off into space – I struggle with this one. When you’re in a meeting it’s important to be attentive and focused. You don’t want it to look like you’d rather be somewhere else.
The Do’s: Sending the Right Messages
- Do maintain eye contact – Eye contact is an important part of non-verbal communication so be sure to look up often to let the meeting organizer or speaker know you’re all ears.
- Do smile – Smiling can help others feel calm and comfortable around you. And for meetings like brainstorming sessions, a calm relaxed environment is exactly what your coworkers need to be effective, productive and innovative.
- Do remember it’s not just about your facial expressions – Communicating well with others during meetings isn’t just about your meeting face. It’s also about your body language, tone of voice, your attitude and preparation.
So, come to every meeting prepared and ready to engage. Look interested. Focus on the person speaking or the supporting presentation materials. Taking notes is a great way to show interest if you’re the timid type, just be sure to look up from time to time. Nod your head in agreement occasionally to show you’re on the same page.
If you’re concerned your meeting face might need some help ask a co-worker you respect to watch your “meeting face” demeanor, and follow their advice and feedback.
How do you make sure you’re meeting face is sending the right message?
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