4 facial expressions that are hurting your career on Zoom

Have you heard of “Zoom fatigue”? One year into the pandemic, it’s fair to say that most everyone has gotten sick of being on constant video calls.

This is especially true for those who work long hours with clients, or children who have to attend virtual school for long periods at a time. Unfortunately, this fatigue can lead to zoning out, mind wandering, and sometimes, facial expressions.

It happens to all of us at one point or another. A video call is droning on for hours, and we may perhaps begin to think about something that is bothering us, or recall a funny memory that causes us to laugh.

Sometimes, we might even stifle a yawn, if the call is boring enough. These facial expressions are a result of Zoom fatigue, but if you aren’t careful, they could harm your career.

1. Your colleagues are watching

Before we jump in, it’s important to understand that just because the meeting is virtual, it doesn’t make it any less important to act professional. One of the most common misconceptions of the Zoom call world is the assumption that nobody is paying attention to you.

Perhaps there are a lot of people on the call, leading to the belief that nobody would notice if you yawn or make look incredibly tuned out of the daily mundane morning meeting. But just as if the conference was in person, your coworkers are still looking at the screen – and they will catch you.

“The face is like a switch on a railroad track,” said Dr. Alan Fridlund, professor at University of California Santa Barbara, for Business Insider. “It affects the trajectory of the social interaction the way the switch would affect the path of the train.”

2. Boredom

Perhaps the biggest – and arguably most detrimental – expression you can make during a work call is looking bored. Checking your watch, or just overtly looking miserable are all surefire ways to send the message that you are mentally checked out. This also includes your body language. When we are disinterested in a conversation, we may tend to slouch or place our hand under our chin.

Body language is just as important to be conscious of as our facial movements and expressions. “Posture or how you carry yourself including bearing, stance, rigidity, uprightness can show your emotions and self-confidence.

“You convey a message via your posture and positioning whether you are leaning back comfortably, sitting rigidly on the edge of your seat, or leaning back with your eyes closed,” says The Balance Careers.Always try to look interested and engaged during a call. If you find yourself dozing off (which is natural), try to bring yourself back.

3. Lack of eye contact

Yes, it’s a bit weird and highly unnatural to look into a lens as opposed to someone’s face, as one normally would during an in-person interview.

Lacking eye contact, even on Zoom, can be costly to your career. Avoiding eye contact can give off the impression of being disinterested or lacking confidence.

Eye contact creates a connection between you and the person you are speaking with. “Maintaining eye contact during a conversation gives the impression that you are friendly and that you are paying attention to the other person.

In some cultures, however, direct eye contact is considered rude or hostile. Understanding the message that you are sending through eye contact is important to improving communication,” said Everyday Health.

4. Yawning, laughing & other inappropriate acts

I know video calls can get boring, and with Zoom fatigue, you may feel exhausted.

Despite these factors, it is never – never – acceptable to yawn on a work call. This is common knowledge, but some people may try to sneak in a quick yawn, thinking it will go unnoticed. Chances are…someone will notice.

Laughing is also something you want to avoid, unless someone intentionally tells a joke and it’s acceptable to do so. Just as you wouldn’t burst out laughing in the middle of class, same goes for a Zoom call. It shows a lack of attention, as well as disrespect for the person speaking.

While it may be hard to maintain control of facial gestures after dozens of video calls in a day, not doing so can hurt your career. It can come across as lazy, uninterested, and above all, rude.

These are a few adjectives that you don’t want to be associated with in the workplace. Turn that frown upside down and make an effort to pay attention (even if you have to force a smile.) Remember, people are watching, and it won’t go unnoticed.