Bimbo Banter


Say No to #PhelpsFace


  • Trends
  • August 9, 2016
  • by Sally Ann Rivera

Welcome to the Summer Olympics, or another two weeks of watching Michael Phelps dominate the news coverage. We’ve all seen his adorable infant son (who convinced him to break his rigid routines), got caught up in his physical therapy methods (cupping) and now the internet has a new meme: #PhelpsFace. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a steely stare from Phelps while rival South African swimmer Chad le Clos tried to distract him before the 200M Butterfly event Monday night. Some media even called the expression “snarling like a Rottweiler.”

#PhelpsFace is great when you’re an Olympian with more lifetime medals than most countries but doesn’t work quite as well when you’re giving a business presentation or on camera with a reporter. Those are situations when you need to work on what we call “listening face” and make sure it looks as far from #PhelpsFace as possible.

When reporters asked Phelps what he was thinking about while making the now famous expression, his response was “nothing.” If you make the same face, you’ll be lucky if your audience is so generous to think the same. More likely, they’ll be turned off by what you have to say.

The cure? Remembering “I like these people” and “I’m happy to be here.” Your perfect listening face is not really a smile, but a slightly upturned expression. It seems overly simple, but showing people that you like them makes them more likely to like you back.

Likeability is key, it’s one of the proven factors that helped Obama defeat Romney in 2012 and is probably one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest struggles this election cycle. It’s also probably why one thing she does have down pat is her listening face.

Think you can’t fake it? Your listening face, like all other presentation skills (yes, even humor!) is a coachable and learned skill. Once again, rehearsal is key.



You May Also Like


Bimbo blog image e
08.04.16

BIMBO Nominees for August 2016

What a month! We’ve got quite a few comments. See BIMBOs from Martha Stewart, Japanese Prime Minister Abe and President Obama. Examples of The Wrong Thing To Say from Rep. Hank Johnson, U.K. Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom and… more 

Bimbo blog image e
02.01.12

BIMBO Nominees for February 2012

My, we’ve had an active month! Since we anointed the 2011 BIMBO of the Year in mid- December, we’re combining two months. Be sure to read the full BIMBO – it features comments from Hollywood insider Scotty Bowers,… more 

Bimbo blog image c
12.01.18

BIMBO Nominees for December 2018

BIMBOs are an international issue and our top three winners this month are all Brits. Joining them are BIMBO nominees ranging from infamous lawyer Michael Avanetti, a Dallas real estate developer, the owner of a small toy store… more 


Back to Top