There’s only one common factor that’s shown up in every single conversation you’ve ever had. The common denominator is you. You are the variable that shows up over and over. You have been talking for decades by now – and that’s landed you exactly where you are.

You’ve been talking in job interviews. Negotiating in salary discussions. Debating your colleagues about politics. Screaming in relationship break-ups. Arguing in play yard spats. You’ve racked up thousands of hours, hearing your own voice more than anyone else’s. You hear you. But you don’t see you, at least not as we judge you.

You are the face of your personal brand.

At no point in your life did anyone sit you down and say, “This is how to manage your face so you appear appropriate and effective in a conversation.”

You were told how to dress for prom. How to pass the ball in soccer. How to make a shadow appear in an oil painting. How to hit a two-handed backhand with topspin.

None of these behaviors have come up in your life more than sitting across from another human being and “looking conversational.” Yet, you weren’t offered tutoring, coaching or advice on managing your face. Somehow, you were supposed to know this, but most people don’t. Faces reflect badly on most personal brands.

Here are the top three facial faux pas that may be your undoing of your personal brand.

1. The Groomer

Stop touching yourself. Don’t bite your fingernails. Chew your hair. Twirl your mustache. Find bumps on the side of your face, or worse inside your ear. Now is not the time to groom. We are not lemurs.

2. The Angler

Stop looking away. Even if straight on is your worst angle (or you’re sure there’s someone more important in the room). Stop looking off to the side. Or over our shoulders. Or in the corner of the screen where your image appears. Look directly at us – in person or into the web cam. We call it face time for a reason. That’s face-to-face. Not face to profile.

3. The Poker Player

Stop stonewalling. Nod. Smile. Wink (but not in a creepy way). Look puzzled. Look relieved. Move your facial features to reflect surprise. Show joy. Display distress. No, you are not supposed to be a silent film star. But in conversation, 85% of what we learn about you comes from your physical cues. Give some.

The best practice is with a friend and a video recorder. Spend five minutes on a topic – like why you should get the job you’re seeking. Shoot and review. Along with catching your bad habits, make sure to catch yourself doing things right, too.


Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen

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