In this instance, I think I'll stay with what I know and feel comfortable with. I would be a better politician if I watched my language, was the consultant's advice. "What's wrong with my language?" I wanted to know.
Apparently, it's not what I say that's the issue. It's my body language, my facial expressions in particular. What I think shows on my face. "Don't make it so obvious, what you're thinking. Body language is a dead giveaway". I don't think I've done so badly up until now. But okay, I was prepared to listen. I am always open to learning and doing things better if I can and this isn't the first time my body language has been raised.
I wasn't aware my body language mirrors my thinking, at least not to the extent I was told, but I suppose it does make sense. Cause and reaction. I was to plant myself in front of a mirror and practise a range of facial expressions. From expressionless to blank to a slight show of reaction. To stop giving the game away I had to change.
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I found it hard. Trying to reign in my face. It had a mind of its own. It probably knew my heart wasn't in it. My face is an expression of who I am and that includes my thoughts. I don't even think of it as being transparent. It's something I do naturally. To attempt to cover up and hide what I'm thinking is asking me to fake it. After a couple of months I gave up. And I'm not a quitter. It was too hard to unlearn. Train my face to be blank and detached.
In meetings, I tried to hide what I was thinking, not let anything show on my face. I found myself concentrating so hard on this I was neglecting what was going on around me. This must have been obvious to any observer. It felt fake. I wasn't being my real self.
I don't want to spend my time in meetings trying to maintain a po-face. I have to concentrate on what's being said. So what if it's clear what's worrying me or someone gets a glimpse of what I'm supportive of. At least people won't have to spend time fathoming out what I'm thinking. I'll save them the trouble. They'll know by my face one way or the other.
There are occasions where I do have to remember there is a time and place for making comment and reacting. I must do nothing that could pre-empt a course of action or prejudice an outcome. My face reacts accordingly. But to constantly be under pressure to have a "show nothing" face would be nigh impossible for me.
I have been interviewed on TV so many times over the years that I don't bother now to try and catch the interview if it's not screened live to air. I used to watch to see how I could improve my interviews. I did try a few times to make some changes but made a hash of it. I have learnt how to handle myself during a live interview, knowing everything will be picked up on camera, facial expressions and body language. Everything is captured instantly. And with social media can go viral within a couple of hours. You were seen and heard saying it in real time. Body language there for all to see.
My body language is risky I'm told. I have to be careful with my expressions and actions when in public. I am often seen mouthing WTF. People see what they want to read into it. I think they've probably read it correctly in my case.