7 Cringey Facial Expressions Your Coworkers Are Noticing on Zoom —and How to Adjust

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Body language can nonverbally reveal a lot about what you’re thinking. Just ask the Royals. And if you aren’t careful, you might inadvertently exhibit some negative traits through facial expressions on your zoom calls.
And, this mistake could be hurting your career.
Zoom is a highly-used application that enables remote video-based calls with multiple people, and its usage has exploded ever since the Covid pandemic sent people to their home offices. In fact, it is estimated that Zoom has over 300 million daily meeting participants. That’s a huge increase from the 10 million daily “Zoomers” in 2019.  
Here are 7 facial expressions that you might be using on your Zoom calls that you need to stop doing immediately. 

1. Blinking too quickly.

Rapid blinking indicates discomfort in some way. You might be signaling to other Zoom members that you are either upset or distrustful of what they are saying. Be aware of your tendency to blink, especially when someone is talking directly to you. 

2. Biting your lip

When we bite our lips, we are exhibiting signs of anxiety or nervousness. Over a Zoom meeting, this could indicate that you’re unsure or even a little angry, especially if your lips are pursed as well. Note that pursed lips can be an excellent breathing technique, but be careful not to subconsciously purse your lips on a video call.

3. Furrowing your brow

This is when we lift our chin slightly, coupled with pressing our lips together. A furrowed brow is a nearly universal sign of anger or contempt. Your audience may interpret this to mean that you’re upset or disagree with the conversation.
This expression can certainly affect the Zoom call and may encourage other participants to either remain silent or fight back against what they perceive to be a moral judgment placed against them.

4. Looking elsewhere

Especially when someone is talking directly to you, make it a point to look squarely at the camera during this time.
Looking at the camera will show that you’re interested and paying attention. Looking elsewhere, on the other hand, can be interpreted to mean that you are disinterested or do not respect the person talking.

5. Smirking

While smiling is perfectly acceptable on Zoom calls, carefully avoid constant smirking as it can imply that you don’t believe what other people are saying on the call. Smirking can also come across as arrogant and flippant, similar to rolling your eyes.

6. Laughing at inappropriate times

In the right context, laughing can help to lighten the mood. But on a Zoom call, it could mean that you’ve completely disregarded what someone else said and decided to laugh it off instead of respond.
Or if you happen to be “multitasking” and watching YouTube or reading something else, a laugh could easily reveal that you’re distracted and not focused on the call.

7. Shaking your head “no”

Unless you are specifically responding to a question, resist shaking your head back and forth (indicating a “no”).
If you do this all the time, it comes across as rude and judgmental. Remember that even though you may not be the one speaking (or being spoken to), your video is still visible to all other participants on the call.
The next time you are on a Zoom call, remember a few important things about how you come across in video:
  • Pay attention by focusing on the screen (especially when people are talking to you)
  • Smile often, but don’t constant smirk as it comes across as rude
  • Look at the camera, not just the screen of other faces, when you’re talking
  • Speak clearly as some people’s speakers may not pick up some voices well
  • Remember that the camera is always on and people are watching what you do
  • Mute yourself when you’re not talking (but remember to unmute!)
Do these things and your career will thank you.
— Steve Adcock
This article was originally published on Ladders