Look Out for Your Resting Face

By Liz Bentley

Two years ago, I was at a party and my good friend caught up to me as the evening was winding down. She said while walking past her earlier that night, I had given her such a mean look that, as she explained, “If I didn’t know you loved me, I would think you hated me.” I was shocked! Not only did I not remember having a mean look on my face, I couldn’t image why I would have had any negative look at all. I had been having a great time. A year later I was running a 360 on a client when the interviewee said my client often has “BRF” in meetings. I had to ask, “What is BRF and why is it bad?” She said “B*tchy Resting Face,” and it makes me think she is annoyed with the content I am presenting. Shortly after that in a coaching meeting with a male client, he told me his wife said he has “A**hole Resting Face” and that he needed to fix it because he always looked angry. These terms were launched by a meme and made popular by a spoof YouTube Public Service Announcement. Since then, I have heard this with more and more frequency in my travels across the country. That’s not to say that people in coaching have “resting face” issues, but that “resting face” has become a topic of conversation and can matter in work and life. At first I felt this was ridiculous…it’s hard enough for people to make hardwired behavior changes let alone work on their resting face. To think – we now have to pay attention to our facial expressions when we are thinking and not talking – feels excessive. But the truth is that our body language says a lot, often communicating more powerfully than our words. In fact, research indicates that when your words don’t match your non-verbal behavior, more weight is given to your body language and tone (60%) than the words you speak (40%). Our TrendSpotter Alert is this: Be aware of what your resting face is communicating. There may be people who think you are plotting their demise when you’re actually just making your shopping list. Additionally, recognize that other people’s resting face may not be in sync with their actual thinking. To Learn More… * For fun, here’s a clip of Anna Kendrick on the Late, Late Show making light of her BRF. (Language alert: please note that the segment contains – not surprisingly – frequent usage of the words ‘b*tch” and “b*tchy.”) * If you’re interested in the science of it, here’s what the researchers have discovered.