Middle school Danny was always a big fan of the is your face hurting you? question. If you’re not familiar with 7th grade boy jokes, let’s dig in:
Is your face hurting you? Because it’s killing me!
Lame middle school jokes aside, anytime your face goes public, you run the risk that it’s hurting you. For example: a few years back I was standing in the church parking lot as services were letting out, observing traffic flow and troubleshooting combustion points. I was in the proverbial zone, but I was also within the sightline of my wife, who was serving at the First Time Guest Tent.
A few minutes into my observation time, she walked over. The conversation went something like this:
Her: You mad?
Me: Huh? No. Not at all. Just watching and thinking.
Her: Well you look like you’re angry at the world. Maybe smile a little bit while you’re thinking.
In my pursuit to observe and fix, I communicated that I was mad as all get-out and I wasn’t going to take it anymore. We laughed about it and moved on, but that conversation reminded me of the power of our facial expressions:
What I perceive as intense, others interpret as angry.
What I intend as focused, others read as ticked off.
What I mean by task-oriented, others define as I hate people and want to throw their children off a bridge.
In short, I have to keep my face in check on the weekend. I’m one of those guys who expresses his emotion like a 12 year old girl…if I’m feeling it, you know it. If it’s funny, I’ll laugh out loud. If it’s sad (hello, Toy Story 3), my chin will quiver and you’ll see my eyes get moist. If it’s a televangelist, I’ll yell at the set rather than order the prayer cloth (our gift to you when you send your love gift today).
That’s okay when it’s just me and the joke-teller or me and the movie screen or me and the televangelist. But when it’s me and the public, that’s when I have to watch my face.
And so do you.
Don’t let the activity of your mind dictate the direction of your appearance. If you’re dealing with a guest at your church, do so with a smile on your face. If you’re in a rush, consciously slow down and get on their pace. If you’re having a bad morning, set it aside so they don’t have one, too. If you’re trying to fix a systems snafu, remember that what you think of as a fix can come across as funk.
Watch your face, because I’ll guarantee you others already are.