Resting – Which Face?

Recently I have been learning to turn my frown upside-down.

Face Look Messenger

I recently undertook some voice coaching from the excellent Fiona Brennan-Scott of Bespoken. As part of my final evaluation she came to watch me deliver a talk at Dorchester Abbey

Part of her feedback was fascinating. She said that when the host was interacting with me, my face lit up and I was animated, warm and engaging. However, when the spotlight was off me she said my face became very serious, knitted eyebrows and slight downturn at the corners of my mouth. Not quite resting b***ch face, but getting there.

Eye Movie

A week before that I had attended a performance workshop at The Magic Circle. This was after an intensive weekend of performing shows, so I was feeing tired. As part of the workshop they threw us on stage and filmed us doing a minute-long improvised talk about ourselves. 

This time I got the comment that I was smiling with my mouth but not with my eyes.

Face Time

Something was clearly going on here. I thought I was feeling fine in myself, but my face was communicating a slightly off-putting seriousness when in “neutral”.

I decided to try retraining my resting face. I figured that we require muscle effort to do everything we do, whether conscious or unconscious. Over the years my facial muscles had obviously got into the habit of projecting a resting sombre face. Perhaps I could retrain them?

I started on my morning dog walk when no-one was looking! Consciously lifting my eyebrows to remove the knit between them and consciously slightly turning up my mouth at the edges. Not a big grin, more a slight smile of contentment. I didn’t want to look crazy, just serene!

At first my eyebrows got very tired but, after a few days, they started to get used to it.

Outlook Expressed

The early results of this have been quite extraordinary.

Firstly, feedback on my talks has improved.

Secondly, whereas people in the street used to step out of my way and say, “Sorry, sir,” they are now more likely to smile and say, “Hello.”

And, thirdly, my attitude to people around me has changed. It has been elevated.

Before, my default unconscious position was to view everyone around me as competitors, I was constantly measuring myself against everyone I met or saw. However, my new resting face has lifted my mood and I now find myself viewing people around me as fellow travellers through the world. Rather than being drained by a crowd, I am now finding that I can be energised by it.

My more positive resting face has produced in me a more positive general outlook.

Give yourself some resting space to think about your resting face 🙂

2 Replies to “Resting – Which Face?”

  1. Hi John,
    Great – try saying it too! When you’re out smiling – I hope you don’t go all reserved when you pass someone. Do more – say something like “good morning” – strange in uptight southern cities like the one we know and you’ll get mixed response, from a similar friendly response to silence or a grunt. If you see the same people a few times, on your regular route, they’ll get used to it and try to beat you to the greeting.

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