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When You Lose Control of Your Face in a Meeting

Here's a video where I go into a bit more detail on this topic. Check it out if you want to see what these faces look like in real life! :)

I’ve been in meetings where the boss came in and said something like, “team, I’m sorry, but we have to cut budgets by 20% this year and I need you to figure out how to do it."

I've also made a lot of different faces after hearing things like this.

  • Angry face

  • Disbelief face

  • “I told you so” face while looking at a friend in the meeting

  • “I might hyperventilate” face

  • “This company is ridiculous” face

It’s not that any of these emotions are wrong to feel. They just are wrong to immediately show on your face:)

Well, “wrong” is probably not the best way to say it. More precisely, a bad facial expression in high stakes meetings is not helpful to you or anyone else. It adds more negativity to an already tough situation.

Imagine driving your car and getting a flat tire, and in the most stressful part of changing the tire on the highway, a friend/spouse/child says to you, “I told you that your tires were bald, and you didn’t listen.”

That’s what it’s like when someone gives you a crap face in a meeting. It might be warranted, but it's NOT HELPFUL.

It's tough to control your face in the moment, but I've gotten better at it over the years. Today, if I feel my blood start to boil in a meeting, I switch my focus to managing the downside and not damaging relationships. I speak a lot less. I put a pleasant look on my face and start nodding at people who speak to acknowledge that I am listening. I just do what it takes to get through the dang meeting.

When I get out of the meeting, I take a little time by myself to calm down or I vent to a trusted person.

How has this worked for me? Not bad, actually. While I would much rather never get upset and always react perfectly in meetings, my approach at least eliminates the prospect of a complete disaster, which is when I stink eye my way through the meeting with a few snarky words or yell at someone. And hey, while I may not have been an “A” player in that meeting, at least I know that my behavior won’t come up in my next performance review. Winning!


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