The Blank Stare

I don’t have a poker face. If I am winning or excited about something, it oozes from my whole being! I am just plain terrible at controlling my non-verbals … in my personal life. I don’t really have a “poker face” for work, either.

At work, I use the blank stare.

It’s one of the most powerful weapons in my HR arsenal. I blank stare by telephone. I use the blank stare emoticon in emails, texts and tweets. I love it! It’s great.

I’ve been told I should teach classes on how to give the blank stare. I’ve also been told that it is intimidating and off-putting by some people … and I am generally OK with that.

Because everyone should have a healthy fear of HR.

When used correctly, the blank stare will effectively communicate any of the following without saying a word:

  • Disagreement. Got a manager proposing something outrageous that there is clearly no time, resources or purpose for venturing at this time? Don’t call them out or debate it.

Just give the blank stare.

  • Disapproval. Got employees and managers making crazy claims or requests? Don’t gasp in horror or growl in disgust.

Just give the blank stare.

  • Disinterest. Got carriers and vendors trying to sell you goods and services you don’t want/need and can’t afford? Don’t run from their calls and emails or politely sit through presentations.

Just give the blank stare.

While I am making light of it here, the blank stare really is important for anyone in management — especially HR. People inside and outside our organizations are constantly seeking a reaction that shows agreement, approval and interest in what they are presenting. And we cannot automatically give them the reaction they want. We have to remain neutral so we can gather more information and make complete, thorough recommendations.

So we give the blank stare. Not to dishearten or dismiss — but to make it clear through our demeanor that we have not been significantly swayed and our decision will always be based on what’s in the best interest of all parties and the goals of the business.

Because the side HR and all of management should be on is the side of the mission, vision, values, goals, policies and procedures. These are created to be good and do good. It’s people who make mess, muck and muddle. HR brings the balance and perspective to keep everyone on the same page and moving in a productive direction.

And nothing brings people back to reality like a good ole’ blank stare. Try it. Today.

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