[Image by Free.gr from Pixabay]

People may ask “Are you tired?” “What’s wrong?” or possibly “Is everything okay?”

If you find that you’re frequently hearing these remarks or something similar, it could be that your facial expression is being interpreted to mean something other than what you intended.  If that’s the case, you may want to think about RBF (sometimes referred to as resting brat face).    This is an expression you have on your face, often when listening to others.  It’s typically unintentional but other people may misread what you’re displaying and think you’re tired or angry.  Typically, you’re unaware of this facial expression which means you’re not trying to come across in a particular way, but other individuals assume your expression is negative.

So, what can you do about RBF? Here are my recommendations:

  1. Become aware of your facial expressions.  This is done in a number of ways such as keeping a small mirror on your desk so you can check how you look, video recording yourself, or taking a screenshot of yourself during varied activities.
  2. The face has approximately 42 muscles.  For RBF, you need only concern yourself with your brows, eyes, mouth and your cheeks.  When we’re confused or worried, we may furrow our brows so try to relax your brows.  Next muscle group is your eyes and generally they’re narrower when we’re trying to understand.   Try to widen your eyes and look up when speaking.  When we feel sad or angry the corners of our mouth tend to be positioned downward. Try using muscle memory to lift the corners of your mouth and use a slight smile when possible. Finally, the cheeks are one last area on which to focus. Your cheeks are a muscle group that either go up or down. When you smile you also raise your cheeks so you can actually feel this change.  Not feeling any change?  You may be flattening your cheeks due to not smiling.
  3. Whatever is on our face is a type of signal and does tell all.  So, when you’re speaking, your listeners are responding to not only what you say but also to what you’re displaying.

RBF used to be associated only with females, but reality is that males have this very same behavior.  It’s essential to know how you look whether or not you’re speaking. It’s all related to communication and our goal is to be as effective as possible.  Remember…your face tells all.

If I may assist you or someone you know with this behavior, please reach out to me.  You can reach me at 518-664-6004 or dale@profitablespeech.com