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Tips for the Workplace: Keep A Poker Face

Geeta | May 31, 2011

I have always heard of the expression “poker face” but recently read the definition to understand what it means.  According to my findings, a poker face is an expression in which you hide your emotions; no one can tell what you are feeling exactly by of the expression on your face.

In the workforce, we are often expected to put on a poker face, because emotions tend to make us seem soft and preventing us from making the most logical, practical and profitable decision.

Business has an impression of being heartless, direct and ruthless, but why is business given that impression when the people who run businesses are human beings, not robots? Granted, throwing a tantrum or some sort of emotive catharsis should be reserved for your living room versus the conference room, but a little compassion, a little humility, goes a long way.

There are plenty of professions out there that are endowed with the unspoken rule of “Cut or be cut”, but at the end of the day, karma is present in every situation and today, someone else may be in need of a favor from you, but tomorrow you may be in need of a favor from someone else.  A general rule in chemistry is “Like begets like”.  In my rule book, that translates to “nice begets nice”.

I write about this now because I have been speaking with friends that were recently promoted, and my conversations with them about their new teams took me to a trip down memory lane to recollect some of my own experiences.

I hit a few bumps in my first year of work and a great “perk” opportunity was taken away from me.  My manager delivered the news and she was very nice about it, but the tears were streaming down my face and the feelings of being undervalued were starting to creep in.  Later on that afternoon, I had a meeting with my director—she took the time to address the subject as well, but here she shared some of her own bloopers and tried to relate to me as a person/ colleague rather than my boss. Her effort, her compassion really helped to “inflate” me again and feel valued—I started to see the issue for what it was, which was a minor setback that I could easily fix if I was consistent with my actions.  I know that when you perform well, it reflects well on your supervisors, but each supervisor has her own managing style and some resonate better with your own personal style.

Here are one of my guidelines:  do your and work and do it well, but always be nice in the process, regardless of the industry norm.  In the words of Maya Angelou “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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