Years ago I sat on a panel in front of few hundred executives. I couldn’t get a word in and my frustration was evident. In order to make my points I emoted when others were speaking, silently voicing my agreement or disagreement to the crowd. Luckily I had a coughing fit and had to exit the panel after a few minutes. This was not my best moment.
Have you ever sat in a meeting with a person who can’t control their facial reactions? Until I learned how to change it, It held me back from moving up the corporate ladder (back when I wanted to climb the corporate ladder.)
I can almost hear you thinking “But you write about emotions being GOOD! I’m confused!” Let’s dig in and clarify.
Emotions vs Emoting. Emotions are good. Emotions can be constructive, authentic and create shared passion. Emoting is more about showing emotion through your facial expressions and body language when you are not speaking, and according to dictionary.com “showing emotion in a theatrical manner”. Emoting can really hurt you when you react while others are speaking. For me, because I often find it challenging to find space to speak in meetings, I would simply speak through emoting. The problem is that people can make up whatever story they want about what your face is saying. And I’m sure I looked pretty silly making all those faces. (PS. I still catch myself making faces on video conferences)
Professional Maturity. I hear people use the phrase “professional maturity” to mean that people can see the big picture, weigh difficult trade-offs and control their emotional reactions. It doesn’t mean that you don’t show emotions, emotions can be powerful! It simply means that your reactions are channeled and constructive, instead of wild and distracting.
This is where the promotions come in. People are held back because they can’t be “put in front of executives”. This often means that they can’t control their facial expressions. And for that simple reason, you may not be getting the opportunities you deserve.
Try this...check out your face on a video conference. Or ask a co-worker you trust how they perceive your facial expressions. Let us know how it works out!