Look at that face!
by Barbara Chatzkel
Yes, make sure to take many good looks at a person’s face during any conversation. The face is the most expressive body language “broadcast center” because there are so many separate features sending out messages.
A short laundry list of which facial areas to observe for body language messages includes:
- Eyes, in general
- Creases around the eyes
- Upper lip
- Lower lip
- Overall positioning of the face
If each of these features is capable of a minimum of five different expressions, creating the potential for more than 50,000 different combinations of facial expressions!
Take a moment and think about a situation where you were with a person who was very happy. How did you know that? More than likely their facials features showed:
- Wrinkles/creases around the eyes
- Sparkling eyes
- Slightly raised eyebrows
- Raised cheeks
- Corners or the mouth lifted
Now, they did not think about each of those five facial expressions and you did not process each of them separately. All that action took place in less than one second for each of you – the expression of happiness is almost immediate and your interpretation occurred in a split-second.
This one example illustrates the power of facial body language, as well as how fleeting each expression can be. It is amazing that we rapidly and continuously process the ever -changing messages without having to stop and think about each component. Much of our translation ability is “automatic” and can catch each message quickly.
A warning: Some of the differences in facial expressions/messages are very subtle. By observing facial body language and learning some of the finer points, you will greatly improve your ability to accurately receive the message being sent.
Next month, learn how to differentiate between a genuine smile and a fake smile, and how eyebrows can give you great insight into a conversation.
TAKEAWAY: Several times a week, take a moment to observe two people in conversation. What are their facial expressions telling you? Think about each of the items in the list above and describe the expression specifically. Breaking down the emotion into its facial body language components will help you understand the subtleties of the communication.
Have a great month and remember to SMILE.
Barbara Chatzkel’s ability to provide a vibrant and behavior-changing book extends across industry segments – everyone uses business body language. Her coaching and consulting expertise on business body language grew from conducting union negotiations, managing difficult personnel situations, managing at multiple levels, and extensive business coaching experience. Her new book, Business Body Language: Your Visual Business Card, will be available in print in early 2015. Visit her website today for further information.
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