Are you crushing creativity with your nonverbals?

Posted by on Nov 22, 2016

If a face can launch a thousand ships, can it also kill a thousand ideas?

My guess is yes.

Some time ago, my work path crossed with someone we’ll call Helen. She seemed plenty nice, but whenever she heard an idea that didn’t fit her way of thinking, she’d say so with her face.

Her lips would tighten. Her mouth would twist to one side. Her eyebrows would knit together. Sometimes her head would tilt.

Without any words, Helen seemed to be saying: Your idea stinks.

When she went on to speak, her words often matched her expression. She would begin with skepticism.

I can’t say that Helen sunk a thousand ideas – I wasn’t keeping count. But she sunk some of mine, and she kept other ideas from setting sail. I became so intent on avoiding her negative expression that I stopped coming forward with new ideas.

The whole experience got me thinking about the signals I might be sending. It reminded me to turn up my self-awareness.

Facial expressions are like pictures – they’re worth a thousand words. Let’s use them for good.

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By Tom Terez • Contact