One of the things that I'm continually amazed by is how many people are blisfully unaware of how they're presenting themselves. Aaron and I watch a fair amount of television. Yes, a lot of it is reality television. Now, before you stop reading and click out of this page hear me out. We like reality TV because I'm kind of a glutton for reading people's personalities and body language.
On reality TV people tend to be less aware of their spontaneous presentation, even if they are playing a role (it's impossible to hide your genuine microexpressions). I still have to remind myself to be aware of how I'm coming across to others (partially because I can get a little irreverent about it and partially because it's easy for me to forget). I used to always, and sometimes still do, get feedback that I look pissed off or sad.
Once I got older and started studying things like microexpressions, character archetypes and Enneagram types, I realized that some of it is just the way that I was programmed (genetically, hereditarily, and through emotional and physical circumstances throughout my life). Now, that doesn't mean it's an excuse for me to walk around with a nasty ass puss on my face and be all like "oh that's just my personality".
Part of what Aaron and I like to help people figure out is how those different elements coalesce in their own personality profile and how it's effecting their goals and relationships with others (whether personal or professional).
It's taken me years to learn all the in's and out's of what affects your personality presentation, but there are a few tips you can try out to gain an understanding of your personal image presentation without spending years of dorky study to learn all of these systems:
1.) Have a conversation with yourself in the mirror.
Ya, it's creepy...but you may be surprised at some of the faces you make in everyday conversation.
2.) Pay attention to other people's reactions.
This may seem obvious, but I'm amazed at how many people ignore really obvious conversational clues like somebody squinting their eyes, or glazing over while their talking.
3.) Ask someone close to you to tell you what you "vibe" like.
Yeah, I used the word Vibe and no I didn't grow up in the 70s. This should be a friend you trust. Let them be brutally honest, and don't get mad at their response. Chances are you've gotten that feedback before.
4.) Take a video of yourself having a conversation.
Try not to vomit while you're watching it, or if you're a bit of a narcissist try not to fall in love with your own image. If step one was too much this may be an easier way for you to see yourself. Those of you that enjoy taking "selfies" with your cell phone will really enjoy this step (you know who you are).
5.) Take notice of your emotions during a conversation.
If you're feeling sad, or irritable or angry this will subtly come across in your presentation. Other people pick up on these things, even if it's just energetic or subconscious.
6.) Audio record yourself talking in an everyday conversation.
Again, it sounds creepy, and you're going to want to ask the other person if it's cool. But you'll be able to hear your own vocal modulations and tones that you wouldn't normally hear.
7.) Learn your personality type.
Take some time to get a composite of your personality profile. I prefer the Enneagram personality system, but the Myers Briggs, and even Jungian archetypes can be useful. These things can give you a pretty accurate snapshot if you tap into the right source of information.
So basically if you think you're making this face:
And you're really making this face:
You should probably be aware.
Part of self awareness is being aware of how we are coming across to others. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised by our image presentation and sometimes we are subtly sabotaging ourselves and have no idea.