Each day is a fresh performance, one in which I (in my version) am the leading character. Some days I screw up the show and others I win plaudits and ovations. And others I feel like cancelling entirely, but they say the show must go on.
This is a subject I’ve written about before but it warrants further analysis. According to TS Eliot you “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet” – and I know exactly what he was getting at. Do you wake up with an agenda or merely to get through the day? Either way, you have to decide how you want to face the world and what message you want to give. A few examples:
- If you’re feeling a touch grotty or stressed and want a bit of sympathy, you may choose to look slightly pained in order to elicit questions, or maybe even to answer in the positive while giving negative body language.
- Something good happened to you, you feel happy and you want everyone to know it – even if it makes them feel worse by saying it.
- When asked about a subject, you say “I don’t want to talk about it” – in the full knowledge that reverse psychology will apply and you will be asked about it all the more.
It’s not difficult to come up with a million scenarios, but the face we choose to wear, and that worn by other people in dealing with us, directly and indirectly, has a direct effect. Of course, at work we may choose to wear an entirely professional face and give away nothing personal, but there is always banter over coffee and at the start of every meeting, so you will find it hard to escape some pleasantries about life in general and what you did at the weekend, and thereby to reveal some aspect of your mood and demeanour.
The question you have to answer is how far you allow that précis of your current state of mind to reveal your true self, and the extent to which you will place obstacles in the way, but the issue is really that we want people to be sympathetic to us so whatever face we adopt the primary objective is always to win love and admiration in one form or another – and if they fear us that could be one form of influence over them.
Of course it’s easy to say you won’t give away any information but your subconscious often betrays you in the form of body language or other clues to what is really going on, and these might be picked up more readily by the more perceptive observer than any deliberate attempts to manipulate. As a species we are well equipped to differentiate between the reality we choose to hide and the one we would prefer to project, though not everybody uses those skills to good effect. Perhaps we deliberately ignore the clues because we want to believe the words?
At any rate, next time you wake in the morning, consider what it is you are trying to say to those around you – then what they are trying to say to you.