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Old 02-15-2011, 06:38 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Dutch in the Netherlands
Posts: 8,960
Poker face: how to stop showing my emotions in my facial expressions?

My coworkers have told me that I need to stop being so easy to read. Especially when I'm in a meeting or lecture and someone says something which I think is bullshit, or deliberately obscurantist, my face shows my thoughts.

Not co-incidentally, obscurantism and bullshitting are the things I feel most strongly about. Other emotions are far less of a problem. I have no problem keeping a straight and polite face when confronted with agression, weirdness, ignorance or anything else other people might have a problem with.

I would like to have a more neutral, polite face. Or at least, more control over my face. So I should just control my face, right? But just willing it so just doesn't help.

Does anyone have tips? Books? Methods?
Most books seem to be about reading faces, not about controlling your own body language.
Old 02-15-2011, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: I am here
Posts: 1,308
My Girlfriend and I play a bullshit game, where the objective is to draw out a response, we try to make the other laugh, get angry or shock the other. If you fall for the others bullshit and express it you lose….

That would be a way to practice it, but it gets addictive, and may shock non informed others
Old 02-15-2011, 07:14 AM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 17,692
Poker face: how to stop showing my emotions in my facial expressions?

Bilateral Bell's Palsy.
Old 02-15-2011, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Deepest South London
Posts: 20,167
Botox or, failing that, niqab.

This messageboard is ever so helpful some days.
Old 02-15-2011, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Twirling towards freedom
Posts: 1,976
A couple of things:

1) Be prepared to hear bullshit. Before you go to the meeting or lecture, remind yourself that even someone you respect a great deal may say things now and then that you think are utter crap. If it doesn't take you by surprise, it will be easier to react calmly. Just think to yourself, "Hmm, that didn't sound right - but everyone says incorrect things now and then."

2) On the other hand, don't go looking for bullshit. If the person speaking is someone you don't respect, you may find yourself eagerly waiting to hear them say anything even slightly dubious, so you can pounce on it and say, "Ah-hah! I knew they were full of shit!" Try not to do this. Triumphant self-righteousness can be difficult to hide. Just take it in stride: "Ah, yes. This bullshitter is saying things that are bullshit. No surprises there."

3) Give the benefit of the doubt. Don't assume that what sounds like bullshit at first blush actually is. Remind yourself that you may have misheard or misunderstood, or there may be some nuance or context the speaker didn't make clear that changes the meaning, or there may be some information you're unaware of that makes what they're saying correct. Again think, "Hmm, that didn't sound right... " but follow it up with, "I'll have to look into that later."
Old 02-15-2011, 08:39 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 4,937
You could be the Guy Who Calls Everybody On Their Bullshit. Every office should have one.

Maybe not the best idea if you're interested in long-term job security, though. I tend to be able to put on a blank expression at will, but I'm not sure it's something I could explain or teach. Maybe practice by watching an opposing political news channel?
Old 02-15-2011, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Leaky Heart of America
Posts: 2,320
It may take some practice, but gain control over your facial muscles, shoulders and back.

If you can keep the corners of your mouth relaxed that's half the battle. Then watch out for narrowing your eyes: don't squint and don't let your brow come down.

It you detect BS, check to see if your shoulders or abdomen have clenched up.

Overall though, just being conscious of the corners of your mouth, and being able to relax them is a good starting point.
Old 02-15-2011, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 12,099
Stop having emotions. Seriously. Your internal state is almost always visible to anyone who pays attention closely enough. To fool people into thinking otherwise it has to come from within - that's the basis for the profession of acting.
Old 02-15-2011, 01:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Near Washington, DC
Posts: 9,736
Find other ways to express your emotions. Squeezing your toes twice means "Bull $#!1" that sort of thing. If you express it elsewhere, especially in a way that is complicated or difficult, then your face will show intense concentration while you do it.

Also though, you need to work on your judgemental thoughts. I also do not suffer fools lightly, but I do expect them to suffer me on a bad hair day. Sometimes just remembering "Judge not that ye not be judged" can go a long way toward increasing my tolerance level. Making a sincere effort to find the intelligent thought behind someone else's conclusions allows me to disagree with them without insulting or offending them.

And again, the cocnentration required in trying to figure out where their conclusions came from shows on my face instead of the contempt. With true effort, I have come to the point where I almost never feel actual contempt for people, I've gained a large measure of humility in the process, and I'm happier for it.

Last edited by TruCelt; 02-15-2011 at 01:21 PM.
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