What impact does a "poker tell," like your face turning red when upset, have on your career, and what can I do about it?

After a recent steel cage deathmatch (aka Talent Review), a fellow manager came up to me. He told me that since I have pale skin it is very obvious when I'm upset since my face turns red. He said that others often conclude the winner of an argument based on who keeps their cool, and it was obvious to others that I did not keep my cool. From my point, I thought that I did not get terribly upset and that the whole session went relatively smoothly. Ironically, I consider that I have great self control.

I'm concerned that the appearance of me getting upset will give a negative perception to my boss and his boss, both of who are high-I. This may have a negative impact on both myself and my directs. Do you agree? Furthermore, what can I do about it, especially considering that I may not be aware of how I look to others?


bug_girl's picture

I have rosacea, and everything I think is written clearly on my face.  In bright red.

It's really frustrating, since sometimes I flush even when I'm *not* embarrassed or angry.  Just thinking "Gosh, I hope I'm not turning bright red" means....that I will immediately turn red. 
Which, of course, -does- make me embarrassed, and then I get redder.  Sigh.

Currently, I can use the excuse that it's a hot flash. I suspect you probably won't be able to make that work for you ;p

I haven't found anyway around it, other than to directly address it as something that just happens whenever I feel intensely about...anything.


Hopefully other folks will have something more than sympathy to offer.

c15t's picture

Personally, I am fine with people who are passionate and show there emotion so long as they remain professional.  If both your boss and his boss are high I, i would guess they are alright with that too more than perhaps a high C or potentially high S.

It does not sound like it was the case, but even if you were angry, there is nothing wrong with that so long as you keep your cool enough to not behave in a non-professional manner like many people could when upset.

If you feel like you kept your cool i don't think i would worry about it and frankly you could win some points in my book.  Did the other manager who made the comment have your best interests at heart?  Is it possible he was trying to gain the upper hand in either that meeting or for future sessions by getting inside your head?

Either way I would not worry too much about it and if anyone asked you about your red face in the future, I would just pass it off as being warm etc...

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Many of our listeners know that 3-4 years ago, I would have moments of anger and frustration on the air about things I deemed really unprofessional.  But if you've listened to me lately, you'll notice that I don't do that anymore.

When I first started hearing that some listeners didn't like my "rants", I truly felt that I couldn't change my behavior - it was just a natural outcropping of my passion for my role.

That's not the same thing as your situation, but it's similar.  I can assure you I never thought that on air behavior would change, as you're suggesting about your skin tone.

It's possible that your red face will never change, but it's also true that people have achieved incredible things with all kinds of habits, tendencies, and race, and gender and ethnicity that have hampered them.

Let it go.



vxl119's picture

I spoke to my mentor regarding this issue, and here is his viewpoint:

He has never been to a steel cage deathmatch (Talent Review) where people didn't get upset. It is OK to get passionate (in appearance or otherwise) about something once in a while. It is normal.

On the other hand, you don't want to get upset so frequently that it is noticeable, and you don't want to get upset about objective issues (code bugs, etc.).