To quote the theme tune for Notting Hill – “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” The question is what are we saying? Are we on message – or are we saying something completely different from what is intended?
The truth is we are all communicating, all the time, even when we don’t want to. We communicate emotions from the fleeting micro-expressions to the photos we use on our social media profiles and in across our personal brand.
Unless we understand what emotions look like, and how you are communicating your emotions through facial expression, we can’t really be sure – we could be silently sabotaging our dreams.
This has always been a subject that fascinates me, because I believe at our core people want to be listened to, understood and respected. I am always looking for ways to better understand people and communicate more effectively. Which is why I studied to become a face whisperer – to understand micro-expressions and how to read them, to understand the person I am speaking with and connect with them more effectively. Identifying micro-expressions is the first step to leveling up your communication.
The human face is the most expressive part of our body. It’s also a powerful tool– to understand, communicate and read what others are thinking or feeling. For centuries, experts have studied how facial expressions work and why they happen – sometimes with surprising results. Their findings show that reading micro-expressions can dramatically improve your ability to get along with people and lead them where you want them to go.
What Are Micro-expressions?
We all have macro- and micro-expressions. Macro-expressions last between half and four seconds and give us more chance to determine what emotion is being shown. Micro-expression on the other hand are fleeting, lasting less than half a second these involuntary communications are extremely revealing although often misunderstood or missed altogether. Micro-expressions can reveal a person’s true emotions and exist for only a fraction of a second.
Micro-emotions are brief facial expressions that occur in less than half the time it takes to blink an eye. They’re involuntary, revealing our thoughts without us realizing. They expose people’s true emotions and their feelings about themselves, others or things around them at any given moment.
Dr Paul Ekman, the world’s leading expert on micro-expressions, has specialized in this subject for over 50 years and identified seven universal micro-expressions.
What Are the Seven Universal Micro-Expressions?
Of course, there are many different human emotions, however, Dr Ekman’s research shows that seven of these are universal. Irrelevant of our age, race, ethnicity, culture – in fact even if we were born blind – we use the same combination of the 43 muscles in our face to demonstrate these seven emotions involuntarily
– Anger – the strong feeling that you have when something has happened that you think is bad and unfair
– Contempt – the feeling that somebody/something is without value and deserves no respect at all
– Fear – [uncountable, countable] the bad feeling that you have when you are in danger or when a particular thing frightens you
– Disgust – a strong feeling of dislike for somebody/something that you feel is unacceptable, or for something that looks, smells, etc. unpleasant
– Happiness- the state of feeling or showing pleasure or the state of being satisfied that something is good or right.
– Sadness – the feeling of being sad. Feeling something is unfair/loss/grief or unhappiness.
– Surprise – an event, a piece of news, etc. that is unexpected or that happens suddenly. It can be positive or negative.
How To Read Micro-Expressions?
We are all communicating constantly, even when we don’t want to. The truth is our emotional brain responds 24x faster than our thinking brain so by the time we think don’t show that emotion if is already out there.
Some people just seem to be naturally talented at reading others’ emotions, but for the rest of us, it takes more effort. The good news is we can learn how to read micro-expressions to empower us to become the most effective negotiator, communicators or leaders in the room.
The facial action coding system is a research-based method for understanding the language of emotions. It enables us to decode all the messages that people are sending, even if they haven’t spoken or expressed themselves verbally in any way.
The first step is to be aware of the seven emotions understanding them helps us to be on the lookout. As we move into the online world, being able to understand micro-expressions helps make up for the loss of body language in the online world.