I often have trouble with communicating with people who have stern faces and intense facial expressions; usually, they are people in a position of authority, e.g. a manager. This greatly impedes our progress in communication.

What are some interpersonal techniques to mitigate my feeling uncomfortable and not confident, when talking to very-serious-looking people?

Should I match their intensity and mannerisms? Should I smile more? Make more eye contact? Gesticulate more?

  • 3
    I am voting to close this question as off-topic since if you are able to identify the difference in how you communicate normally then learning how to mitigate your anxiety and self esteem becomes more of an intra-personal issue and we can't really answer such questions here. If you can focus more on the communication, what you have tried and why it didn't work then it may help make this more on-topic. Or alternatively focusing on asking how one of your suggestions might impact conversations in this scenario could also work.
    – Jesse
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 0:39
  • 1
    Samantha didn't mentioned self esteem. You are not paying attention to the practical situation this person is facing, Jesse. Is actually remaining on-topic by suggesting techniques passing through her mind.
    – J A
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 0:52
  • Please clarify: are asking how to communicate with the person so that he is less stern? Are you asking for techniques how to communicate without feeling uncomfortable with them? Are you asking how to tell the person that he is too stern? I'm guessing the second, but please clarify.
    – Vylix
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 1:24
  • @JA This question is being discussed on meta
    – Jesse
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 2:26
  • Thank you for the heads up.
    – J A
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 3:01

1 Answer 1


Practice with others.

You can approach strangers in situations where making conversation is permitted, strangers you detect with the same type of strong looking faces, gestures and mannerisms. The guy selling hot dogs at the corner, the guy selling balloons at the park, the woman selling lottery tickets, the officer directing traffic.

Pick one or two people and follow through not just on a single day but recurrently, make conversation, get to know them so you detect what kind of ideas they are prone to defend and challenge their ideas trying diverse strategies.

This doesn't mean to get in arguments, it doesn't mean to contradict their ideas, challenging is as simple as asking them to explain, to elaborate, then you can go further if you feel this won't end in confrontation, but also don't be too afraid to be out of your comfort zone in conversations or push them (your subjects) a little outside of their comfort zone, after all, you need to practice for when you need to do the same with managers and they (your stranger subjects) don't have a say in your job. Doing so, you are getting more and more skills and more experience on how to deal with strong characters like managers.

Soon you will find out you now feel more comfortable exchanging info on important sensitive matters with mangers and such, because you have been developing confidence practicing those interpersonal skills you mentioned in your question, and you will learn more techniques along the way.

You'll also end up making new community friends around your public area.

Best of luck.

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