How convincing is your listening face?
If you’re not sure, try smoking a joint.
There is no doubt that THC heightens my listening face awareness. (For those of you who do not know what a listening face is, it is the facial expressions you perform when someone is talking to you; everyone has one, some are just more calculated than others).
I am totally in control of these responsive functions—such as making eye contact, nodding with approval, looking up to the heavens as if in deep thought—when I am stoned.
Maybe too aware.
Just last week I caught myself obsessing over the fact that my head was entirely held up by my hand that was resting on the arm of a couch, and oh, my god, all I wanted to do was pick my head up but doing so would mean shifting attention to me and my heavy head but I am supposed to be engaging in this conversation. . .
“I totally know what you mean,” I said, with heavy eyes.
That verbal confirmation of conversation investment took about 1 percent of my mental capacity as opposed to the 99 percent that was focused on what my body was doing or not doing.
For me, the more aware I become of what my body is doing and how it is presenting itself, the more I get taken out of the external situation. This is true even when I’m not stoned.
Often times, as many yogis would tell you, this is a good thing. Mindful awareness of one’s own body is like a shield to the stress and chaos of every day life; it acts like a sort of RainX. But what if your goal is to become invested in the external. Do you have to choose one over the other?
The listening face has been in a number of headlines over the past few weeks, specifically in relation to Hillary Clinton and her “mastered” facial reactions to the odious vomit of Trumpspeak during the first presidential debate.
“If I were trying to prove someone’s investment in a conversation with me, I would see right through all of this theatrical bullshit, especially if multiple techniques were used during the course of a single sit down.”
Media reactions to Clinton’s seemingly scripted yet unscripted reactions have been varied: While many liberal papers praised Clinton’s practiced serenity, which, according to Jezebel was acquired over decades of listening patiently to men who are sure they’re better informed than she is, others took a humorous approach, mocking her movements in a manner that was something like a baby bird wiggling out of its little blue egg.
Maybe it is because I so clearly struggle with the balance between coming off as genuine as well as practiced, but I am intrigued—and quite impressed—with the fact that someone can master their self-representation in daily interactions, especially to the point where it becomes second nature.
I decided to do some internet research to see if there were some things I could do to step up my game and activate a convincing listening face. After all, listening faces are important in engaging people; they’ll become far more likely to open up and share their knowledge and talents if you look interested.
So, here is what I found:
Never break eye contact
Narrow your gaze
Furrow your eyebrows
Cock your head to the right
Squarely face the person, belly button to belly button.
Open your mouth to say something and then close it
Turn off technology
Open your heart
Rehearse in the mirror
Thanks, internet, for not much of anything.
If I were trying to prove someone’s investment in a conversation with me, I would see right through all of this theatrical bullshit, especially if multiple techniques were used during the course of a single sit down. And now that I wrote this article, I am going to be hyper aware of such tactics, so, if we ever meet in person, please don’t use them on me.
I prefer to be told that I am boring.
I am sure there are more reputable sources—like edited books—for tips on how to master the art of listening (the sources that I pulled the above information from are mostly business and motherhood blogs), but I think the banal nature of the suggestions I found across these user-generated sites confirms my hesitation of the high praise we place on the scripted rhetoric of political talk.
On a personal level, I struggle with the idea—and act—of networking and schmoozing. The interaction—and my words—seem fake. And I am not good at hiding that. So, I often come off as a girl who has one goal in mind: to get something from you—be it an art exhibition, a job, or any other career-moving goal—which is exactly what I am doing.
As you can imagine, I am as equally unconvincing in not being stoned as I am to the fact that I am socially awkward when it comes to asking for things.
Maybe, though, I should try to re-frame my thinking. Because networking—as uncomfortable as it is—is important. Patient and well-thought-out conversations are also important. Being prepared, especially if you are applying for the most important job in the world, is important.
I am completely turned off by disingenuous people, but maybe I should bite my tongue, search Amazon and invest in some communication appreciation books. After all, the countrywide criticism of scripted conversations and political jargon is what got us into the bad trip of the Trump candidacy.