(Well and Good) When someone says you “wear your heart on your sleeve,” it’s almost always a backhanded compliment. In certain company, being in touch with your emotions can lead to deep conversations. But at work, for example, it often pays to know how to cloak your true feelings to avoid unnecessary attention or conflict.
Some people are simply more emotive than others, says body-language expert Patti Wood, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to hide when someone is really pushing your buttons. “First, always ask yourself if not disclosing how you feel is the best course of action,” says Wood. “If someone is doing something, like criticizing a friend of yours when she’s not present with you, it might serve you better to to say, ‘I don’t like to hear criticism of my friends.'”
Knowing when to speak your feelings and when to hide them is a skill worth developing, but while you’re still trying to figure it out, use Wood’s three tips for concealing how you really feel when you’d simply rather not discuss it.
1. PLACE YOUR TONGUE ON THE ROOF OF YOUR MOUTH
‘This is an exercise used by audiologists and speech pathologists to relax, and it’s also a yoga exercise used to center and calm,” says Wood. When your tongue’s resting just behind your teeth, it becomes difficult to grimace, so even if you’re teeming with anger, your face will remain cool and neutral.
2. WATCH WHERE YOU’RE LEANING
We all know that leaning toward someone communicates interest if you’re, say, on a date. “Sometimes when you’re feeling strong emotions, you lean forward or retreat backward to change your emotional state,” says Wood. “Typically a forward lean indicates interest, intense engagement, or power. And leaning backward indicates relaxation, observation, or power.” If you lean somewhere in the middle, it’s less easy for the person who’s speaking to read you.
3. RELAX YOUR MOUTH
“I call your mouth the ‘window to the truth.’ It often shows a lot about the questions you want to be answered and your emotions. Do a mouth check to make sure your mouth is relaxed rather than tightening your jaws or lips,” says Wood. The eyes may be the “windows to the soul,” but the mouth reveals exactly how someone’s feeling about you.