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That's just my face!

Posted by
20 Mar 2015
Today marks the International Day of Happiness which was established by the United Nations in June of 2012, the aim of which is to spread happiness throughout the world. The General Assembly commented that they are "conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”. 

Whilst this is true, what is it exactly that makes a person happy? Money, career satisfaction, family and finding love all appear to contribute to an individuals' happiness.

However, whilst we may be satisfied with our own lives, there also appears a need to broadcast how happy we are, particularly across social media; we feel obligated to post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram exactly how delighted we are with our lives. It seems that it is not actually our own level of happiness that appears to be infectious, but how happy others perceive us to be.

For instance, I previously worked in a customer service role, where my duties included selling face-to-face to customers. The majority of the role depended on how I presented myself; my personality, my friendly manner and even my dress code. If I got all of these elements right, I would be able to engage a customer fully in conversation and thus, use my stellar selling techniques to boost turnover. But my other responsibilities included non-public facing tasks. During this time I would be concentrating, thinking about completing the task at hand and attempting to move on to the next one.

After four weeks of working in this organisation, I was pulled aside by the manager and was told "You look miserable and that is making everyone else miserable”, indicating that this "behaviour” was making me unapproachable to colleagues and customers alike.

I'm completely open to taking constructive criticism or any feedback that I feel would improve my performance in the work place, however, I was slightly horrified to think that my natural face appeared to be sullen and this hindered not only my ability to perform and sell, but also my colleagues.

What frustrated me the most about this situation was that I was anything but surly or miserable.  In fact, I was perfectly content dealing with customers and carrying out other responsibilities I thought I was good at and it gave me exceptional job satisfaction. My only reply to his comments could be "That's just my face”.

Usually, I tend not to let this kind of feedback affect me in a negative way, however, over the coming weeks his words haunted me and I found I was increasingly paranoid , continually asking colleagues if my hard-working, "concentration” face was affecting them but no one said that it did.

This got me thinking though, whist there are numerous studies that suggest that an individual's happiness can affect their productivity, it is in fact the happiness that we exude to others and how they interpret that which affects how effective you are and how colleagues and customer respond to you.

So now, I strive to smile constantly, to always be perceived as happy. And if somebody comments "you look bizarre smiling all the time” or "you look like The Joker from Batman” (or even the odd compliment of "your teeth are so white”), I can respond by saying "That's just my face”.  

Do you suffer from a naturally sullen face and does it in anyway affect your performance at work?  Let me know in the comments below…

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