By now, you would think that every man on the planet had heard that asking a woman to “smile more” for any reason at all – but especially because she doesn’t appear “friendly” enough, is a big no-no.
Apparently, though, you would think wrong.
OP is the only female at a tech consulting job, and her boss told her she should smile more and be more friendly with clients because she was coming off “harsh.”
I work in a tech consulting job, I’m the only woman on the team.. and my boss told me I was coming off “harsh” with clients and should be more upbeat and smile more.
It felt… Ick
She immediately asked the rest of her team whether or not they had ever received any similar feedback. They all said no.
I right away texted my group chat of coworkers (without the management in it) asking “has BossMan ever told any of you guys to smile more?’
It was an immediate round of no’s, and a couple of my coworkers asked if he said that to me and pointed out the double standard. A few of my coworkers joked that some of the clients we have right now don’t give them anything to smile about.
So then I asked if any of them had ever been called harsh, and it was again all nos.
When she told them what their boss had said, one of them shared a picture of a woman “smiling” in a silly/ugly way and suggested as a joke that perhaps she should smile like that.
I told them that the boss had told me to smile more, and one of my coworkers sent me a picture of a girl pulling a silly face with a weird pinched smile and bug-out eyes saying “well what BossMan says, he gets”
OP thought it was a funny suggestion and began doing it in meetings.
When her boss asked about her “face” she and her coworkers told him that’s just how she smiles when she’s forcing it.
I thought that was hilarious and decided to actually do it.
Anyway, I started smiling more and more around my boss… But also a bit stupidly. Just keeping my mouth pinched tensely, gums on display, and purposely pulling my chin back towards my neck so I’d get a double chin.
I never did it in front of actual clients, just my boss and coworkers who were in on the joke. And my boss kept looking uncomfortable when I did.
He asked me at a meeting about a week in what that face I was pulling was. I said “Uhh what face” He said “That one, just a second ago” and my coworker said “What, she was just smiling? What are you getting at her for?”
My boss said”It looked like she was pulling a face” and my other coworker pulled out his phone where he had some pictures from a recent happy hour where I was pulling that face to make my coworkers laugh. And he said “Dude, what the hell is wrong with you, that’s literally her smile? Look at this picture from last Friday” and all of my coworkers backed him up saying that was just how I smile.
My boss was looking kinda incredulous so I clarified that if something makes me spontaneously laugh or grin, it probably looks a little more relaxed, but when I’m just putting on a smile to be polite or pose for a picture, I guess that’s how I smile. And I was trying to be polite after he let me know I was coming off “harsh” in meetings.
He told her to quit and just be herself, going back on what he’d suggested previously.
Even though it was never brought up again, OP is feeling a little guilty for gaslighting her boss and is wondering whether or not she was wrong to do it.
Anyway, at my next one on one meeting, my boss said I didn’t need to change my demeanor that much based on his comments, because honestly it was coming off disingenuous and that would look worse in front of clients.
I just said “Yeah, I guess I’ve never really been good at being super peppy without it looking fake.”
And as far as I know, that was the end of that. Except for it becoming a running joke at the office that I look like Nigel Thornberry. Which is a pretty smashing nickname honestly.
But I feel a little bad that I basically gaslit my boss and my coworkers were in on it instead of being direct with him and just saying that he was coming across a bit s*xist.
AITA for my fake smile thing?
Reddit is ready to drop their opinions!
The top comment says she’s not the jerk, here, and also she’s making other people smile – so win!
Seriously, if people could learn this lesson, it would be great.
Because based on these comments it’s still way too common.
Just one more great thing about getting older.
We all have our gifts.
On the one hand, this probably wasn’t all that kind or professional, but listen. This really isn’t a conversation we should still have to have.
Where do you come down on this one? Let us know in the comments!