Don’t Be a ‘Pickle Face’ This Holiday Season

Abundance Gratitude Growth mindset


Key Point: I will always remember a senior executive, who was a sponsor and mentor, telling me that I looked “sour.” Those were his exact words… Ouch. They stick with me because that is not my normal disposition. Not too long after, I left the company. Clearly, the joy had left me at work and I didn’t even realize how much I was a carrier of gloom. It can come over the best of us like a fog, getting thicker as time goes on. As leaders we cannot afford to be unaware of the mood we transmit.

Pope Francis is Time magazine’s 2013 Person of The Year. Recently polls undertaken both by NBC  News/Wall Street Journal and ABC/Washington Post, reported that the general public, regardless of religious view or affiliation, gave Pope Francis very positive approval ratings. Maybe the following is one example of why?

One of Pope Francis’ most recent writings implored Christians not to be such “sour pusses.” The literal translation from the Italian worded document I believe was “pickle face.” I’m guessing that Francis has a reasonable amount of scripture and spiritual insight to back up this appeal. So why not take a little inspiration from this invitation to self-examine where each of us lays on the “pickle face scale,” including of course, while at work? (For those of you who appreciate a more secular view, there is plenty of science that connects with the benefits of seeking and finding joy).

Have an honest look around you. Do you see and hear people laughing a lot? Now laughter is not the only measure of joy, or antidote to being a “pickle face,” but it’s a pretty darn good indicator. Peter Bregman, a psychologist who regularly publishes Harvard Business Review blogs, notes the following: “We aren’t laughing anymore because we aren’t fully present anymore. Physically we’re in one place but mentally, we’re all over the place. Think about some recent phone conversations you’ve had — and then consider what else you were doing at the same time. Were you surfing the web? Reading and deleting emails? Shooting off a text? Sorting through mail? Or maybe you were thinking about any number of problems — a renovation, a recent argument, a never-ending to-do list — unrelated to the topic at hand. Unfortunately, being fully present in the moment has become a casualty of our too full and harried lives.”

I have blogged about the importance of having fun at work before. But self-examining conscious “pickle face status,” is a little different.

Character Moves:

  1. Give yourself a “pickle face rating.” Self-examine how much joy is in your life at work. Do you flow through the day genuinely communicating joy? Smiling when you greet others? Laughing a lot? If yes, keep doing it! If not, seriously ask yourself why not?
  2. Use improved presence to connect with others and also to find the laughter waiting for you in the moment. It’s there for your discovery. Meetings and other business transactions are of course serious investments and they require discipline to ensure results are achieved. However, unless the situation is life threatening, there has got to be a reason to have a laugh. Do you during daily encounters at work? How often?
  3. Do people seem attracted to you? Do people at all levels like to be around you, even in tough situations? If so, it is likely that one reason, in addition to having confidence in your abilities, is because you give out a positive joy vibe. If they distance themselves, it might be because of “Three P’s,” “PICKLE,” “(Sour) PUSSES” and “PRICKLY.” Don’t be “that guy.”

Pickle Face Free in The Triangle,