Is Your Facial Expression Affecting Your Career?

These days, women have become concerned about their naturally serious expressions—and with good reason. Not only can they add permanent age lines and wrinkles to your face (think about those annoying “elevens” etched between a woman’s brows), but your facial expression can also negatively impact your career.

Whether it be during a job interview, company meeting, or daily interactions with your boss or coworkers, showing signs of disinterest, annoyance, or disengagement can be particularly destructive. Even if it’s not your intention, an accidental frown could send the wrong message—in effect, projecting an unhappy persona even if you’re completely content.

“Be aware of it,” says career coach Sarah Hathorn, who notes that even a blank face may come off as negative. “Are you looking down, frowning or scowling with the forehead?” asks Hathorn. If so, she suggests holding a very slight smile so that you look like you have energy and are paying attention, instead of coming off as distracted or indifferent. Facial expressions are a part of everyday living that send vital messages to those around us.

Here are some useful tips that should help you stop frowning.

Start Inside
Dr. Richard Fried, a clinical psychologist and dermatologist, advises patients to take part in any activity that promotes relaxation.Try deep breathing, yoga, or guided imagery, which all “lead to a net response of decreased muscle tension, which can make meaningful differences” to a face that looks stressed, worried, angry, or tired. If the feelings prove hard to come by naturally, fake them, Dr. Fried said.

Arch Your Brows
Beauty therapist Damone Roberts recommends giving your brows a full, gently rounded arch. Arching your brows will not only give you the softest, friendliest look, it will also give better shape to your face. You can achieve this at home or by visiting a brow-centric salon. Be sure to pluck stray hairs, and use brow gel to keep hairs from hanging into your eyes.

Smooth Frown Lines
The corrugator muscle, also known as the frowning muscle, contain long, narrow fibers that run across the eyebrows and extend to the temples. M.J. Saffon, author of The 15 Minute a Day Natural Face Lift, suggests performing a forehead smoother exercise on a daily basis over several weeks for noticeable improvement.

Firmly press your fingertips on your corrugations and massage that area vertically for 30 seconds, then horizontally over the eyebrows and toward the temples. This will help alleviate some of the strain between your brows, as well as smooth out  those lines.

Be Surprised
According to Annelise Hage, a New York City-based yoga instructor and author of The Yoga Face, practicing “surprise me” facial expressions have multiple benefits. Not only can they smooth out the brow area, these exercises also de-wrinkle the forehead. Open your eyes wide in surprise, but do not wrinkle your forehead. Then, look at a point in the horizon for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise five times.

Whether you meditate to relax your facial muscles, or exercise daily to smooth your forehead lines, awareness of your facial expression is an important starting point in any career. Your coworkers are watching you, and even though you may not feel angry or stressed, unknowingly your face may be sending a message you’re not aware of–one that may end up affecting your paycheck or job opportunities.