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The Downsides of Having a Poker Face

The Downsides of Having a Poker Face

It’s tough when everyone knows what you’re thinking, but some of the best things about people that wear their heart on their sleeves is that they are approachable, transparent, and perceived as authentic. But what if you don’t easily share your emotions? Many people would say maintaining a poker face is an enviable skill, but it’s not always an asset. Here’s why:

People will continually ask you if everything is “OK.”

It’s common to look for or observe visual feedback from someone when you’re in a conversation.  A poker face may be helpful if your reaction to the discussion is negative, however it could be extremely misleading if your reaction is positive. When there is no reaction, or even no change in expression, its natural to wonder if there is something wrong with person to whom you’re speaking. And with no additional social queues, the inevitable question that follows is “Are you OK?”f

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You may have a hard time gaining credibility as a leader.

A stoic countenance can be a huge asset in the business world, particularly if you regularly engage in negotiations or sales, but it’s not a great thing to have if you’re trying to lead an organization. Why? People may think you are uncaring or uninterested. Leaders need to appear motivated and inspirational. Someone who doesn’t openly show their emotion or excitement around ideas or isn’t able to openly empathize with their constituency will struggle to appear authentic. It’s hard to get people to follow you if you don’t seem invested in your cause.

A monotonic expression implies that you’re not engaged in whatever is going on around you and such an apathetic stance can be really damaging to those that need to interact with you on a daily basis, especially those that look to you for leadership. Everyone wants to feel connected to the leader and their mission and your poker face makes it hard to break through.

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Your emotional health and job performance may suffer.

Controlling your emotions is stressful.  It takes a lot of energy and attention that you could be dedicating to other pursuits. A study out of Rice University, University of Toronto, and Purdue University showed that employees that maintain a neutral stance at work are much more likely to show symptoms of distress and burnout. Staying stoic can even affect your job performance; the study further showed that neutral employees were rated lower for customer service and lowered the external perception of their organization more than positive employees.

Your dating life may struggle.

Emotional detachment can be helpful in many situations, but it’s usually a downside when trying to find a romantic life partner. This effect could be even worse if you’re a man – women have a harder time interpreting single note facial expressions, and many women perceive them to be negative.

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What’s tough about this one is that you may actually not be emotionally detached; you may actually care for your significant other very much. But without the ability to show that emotion in a meaningful way through your facial expressions, it could leave your partner second-guessing your intentions.

So, how do you overcome these challenges? Firstly, figure out when and how to use your poker face. A neutral stance is helpful in negotiations, and to help maintain a sense of calm in stressful situations. Then, find ways to bring emotion into your life. Spend some time practicing different faces and expressions in the mirror. While this may seem odd, particularly to someone who is not used to showing emotion, this exact technique is used by people who show too much emotion – it helps them better understand how they react to situations an how they can fine tune their reactions so they don’t come across as overly enthusiastic. Be happy – at least you don’t have that problem.

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Featured photo credit: Abraham Lincoln Memorial / Gage Skidmore via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 17, 2019

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

The pursuit of worthwhile goals is a part of what makes life enjoyable. Being able to set a goal, then see yourself progress towards achieving that goal is an amazing feeling.

But do you know the biggest obstacle for most people trying to achieve their goals, the silent dream killer that stops people before they ever even get started? That obstacle is the comfort zone, and getting stuck there is bound to derail any efforts you make towards achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

If you want to achieve those goals, you’ll have to break free from your comfort zone. Let’s take a look at how your life will change once you build up the courage to leave your comfort zone.

What Is the Comfort Zone?

The comfort zone is defined as “a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.”

What stands out to me the most about that definition is the last part: “using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.” How many successful people do you know who deliver a steady level of performance?

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The goal in life is to continually challenge yourself, and continually improve yourself. And in order to do that, you have move out of your comfort zone. But once you do, your life will start to change in ways you could never have imagined. I know because it’s happening right now in my own life.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. You will be scared

Leaving your comfort zone isn’t easy. In fact, in can be downright terrifying at times, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little trepidation when you’re embarking on a journey that forces you to try new things.

So don’t freak out or get overwhelmed when you feel yourself getting a little scared. It’s perfectly normal and all part of the process. What’s important is that you don’t let that fear hold you back. You must continue to take action in the face of fear.

That’s what separates winners from losers.

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2. You will fail

Stepping out of your comfort zone means you’re moving into uncharted territory. You’re trying things that you’ve never tried before, and learning things you’ve never learned before.

That steep learning curve means you’re not going to get everything right the first time, and you will eventually fail when you move out of your comfort zone. But as long as the failures aren’t catastrophic, it can actually be a good thing to fail because …

3. You will learn

Failure is the best teacher. I’ve learned more from each one of my failures than I have from each one of my successes. When you fail small, and fail often, you rapidly increase the rate at which you learn new insights and skills. And that new knowledge, if applied correctly, will eventually lead to your success.

4. You will see yourself in a different way

Once you move out of your comfort zone, you immediately prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving more than you thought was possible. And that will change the way you see yourself.

Moving forward, you’ll have more confidence in yourself whenever you step out of your comfort zone, and that increased confidence will make it more likely that you continue to step outside your comfort zone. And each time you do, you’ll prove to yourself again and again what you’re really capable of.

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5. Your peers will see you in a different way

Whether we want to admit or not, people judge other people. And right now, people view you in a certain way, and they have a certain idea of what you’re capable of. That’s because they’ve become accustomed to seeing you operate in your comfort zone.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you’ll prove to other people, as well, that you’re capable of much more than you’ve shown in the past.

The increased confidence other people place in you will bring about more opportunities than ever before.

6. Your comfort zone will expand

The good thing about the comfort zone is that it’s flexible and malleable. With each action you take outside of your comfort zone, it expands. And once you master that new skill or action, it eventually becomes part of your comfort zone.

This is great news for you because it means that you can constantly increase and improve upon the behaviors that you’re comfortable with. And the more tools and skills you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.

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7. You will increase your concentration and focus

When you’re living inside of your comfort zone, the bulk of your actions are habitual: automatic, subconscious, and requiring limited focus.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you no longer rely on those habitual responses. You’re forced to concentrate and focus on the new action in a way you never do in your comfort zone.

8. You will develop new skills

Moving out of your comfort zone requires that you develop new skills. One of the many benefits you’ll experience is that you’ll be stepping away from the “limited set of behaviors” and start to develop your ability and expertise in new areas.

Living inside of your comfort zone only requires a limited skill set, and those skills won’t contribute much to your success. Once you can confidently step outside of your comfort zone and learn a new skill, there’s no limit to how much you can achieve.

9. You will achieve more than before

With everything that happens once you move out of your comfort zone, you’re naturally going to achieve more than ever before.

Your increased concentration and focus will help you develop new skills. Those new skills will change the way you see yourself, encouraging you to step even further out of your comfort zone.

Featured photo credit: Josef Grunig via farm3.staticflickr.com

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