I have “resting bitch face.” Sexist term aside, I have the type of face that, when in a neutral position, can look angry or contemptuous. While I sometimes can use this fact in my favor (no one ever randomly approaches me in the supermarket), it is not advantageous when it comes to my career as a communicator. So, over the years I have picked up a few tips to deal with it. If you, too, happen to have RBF maybe they can work for you.
Know your face
Take a long, hard look in the mirror. Get to know what your features look like when you think you are presenting a neutral face. Are the corners of your mouth turned down? Where are your eyes focusing? Are you squinting at all? Make small adjustments until you find a neutral expression that is more open and friendly.
Ask for help
You have never actually seen your own face. You’ve only seen pictures and reflections of it. Ask someone who looks at your face often to help you understand what you are, or aren’t, doing that may give you an off-putting appearance. What you think is a look of intense listening may actually be coming off as judgement. A candid observation can bring it to your attention.
We are all used to looking down. Whether it’s at our phones or at our feet, our eyes are often downcast. Unfortunately, looking down can also give a sense of captiousness. Try to keep your head up, chin straight, and eyes looking forward. Definitely try to avoid the side eye at all costs. Bonus? Keeping your head up helps you avoid the appearance of jowls or double chins.
Open your eyes
Speaking of your eyes, make sure they are open slightly wider than usual. No, I am not telling you to go bug eyed or full “Clockwork Orange.” Instead, just think of raising your brows slightly to open your eyes slightly wider. Don’t go too crazy with your brows though. You don’t want to look skeptical. This is one of those times when the mirror is your friend. Spend time practicing to see what looks right.
Smile with your mind
Tyra Banks says to smile with your eyes. She even has a term for it: smizing. But Tyra coaches models, not professionals. There are times when smiling eyes are not appropriate. Instead try and hold a smile in your mind. Not an actual image of a smile, but something that makes you happy – like your dog, or a joke your kid told you. I can almost guarantee it will show up on your face.
Change your makeup
Make-up can be a big help. It can also be a big hindrance. Try to eliminate darker colors on your face, especially around your eyes. Also, avoid lines that draw your face down, especially in your eyebrows and around your mouth.
Just like when someone tells you, unsolicited, to smile, you do not have to change your RFB. There are plenty of successful people who rock it every day, including Queen Elizabeth. If you so choose to embrace it, use it to your advantage to make sure people know you are serious, in charge, and not to be messed with. Also, so they never just wander up to you in the grocery store asking for help picking out pears.