Keeping your inside voice…inside!

Posted In: Confidence and Control
Posted On: 8/28/2018

Not too long ago, I gave a speech where I mentioned that you should know what your Achilles Heel is (you know, that thing that you do in business that you shouldn’t do).  

By knowing what your Achilles Heel is, you will most likely be able to avoid some unpleasant encounters with your boss and others.  (For a funny story about my Achilles Heel, listen to this audio chapter from my book.)

After the speech, one of the attendees approached me and revealed her Achilles Heel: she has trouble controlling her facial expressions in meetings.  So, when someone says something stupid (and someone always does), it is impossible for her to not roll her eyes and without saying a word, clearly communicate that she thinks the comment, and therefore the person, is stupid.  But, that isn’t the extent of it.  She indicated that she had reactions to lots of things that should have stayed in her head and should not be shown on her face.

Now the good news is that this gal is keeping her thoughts in her head and not saying them!  So she is not one of those people who let their inside thoughts escape through their outside voice!  But her expressions are revealing more than she should reveal.

So, what should you do when your face reveals too much information?  achilles heel at work, communication at work, avoiding oversharing at work

Here are my 5 tips:

1. Recognize that you have this characteristic. Self-awareness is the first step to deciding whether or not you want to stop or continue with this trait;

2. Track patterns of when you find this happening to you.  Is it all the time?  Is it just when you hear something you don’t agree with?  Is it only with certain people?  

3. Decide when it is a problem in your life and which instances that you want to change. You may be perfectly happy being this transparent with friends and even peers, but you have to put a stop to it when you are in meetings with your boss or other constituents.

4. Practice looking in the mirror with an expression that shows that you are listening yet doesn’t reveal what you are thinking.  This is really NOT hard but will take some concentration on your part.

5. Test it out in a meeting.  Really focus on listening and keeping your new “non-expression” expression intact. If you have a peer you can trust, ask them to give you feedback after the meeting about how well you did!  Then repeat!

One of the secrets of long term success in business is being able to control your environment as much as possible. Bad things will happen, but don’t bring them on yourself by doing something as simple (and destructive) as rolling your eyes when the boss says you need to grow the business by +20% in the coming year.  

Feel free to think it is stupid. Don’t feel free to let your face say out loud that it is stupid!  

If you control that reflex, you can come back at the appropriate time with a solid case for why +20% doesn’t make sense.  

In that way, you will be in control of how you make a recommendation, not out of control with an inappropriate response.