In this section we are going to look at facial expressions, including smiling.
I will be asking you if you wish to do a little home work. The smile is one of the few universals in body language, similar to this is the eyebrow flash of recognition and greetings. Our faces may not always be our fortunes, but one thing for sure it is where some of the most potent non verbal signals originate.
People have tried to prove that facial appearance was a reliable indicator of a variety of human traits, intelligence, criminality, emotional stability or insanity, but of course they failed,it is just not possible to use facial expressions in this way. What can be done however in the light of present research, is to use facial expressions as a means of gaining a better understanding of what others are communicating.
As we look at body language we see the expressiveness of the face is second only to that of the eyes. We gain a good deal of our information about people's emotional states from the expressions on their faces.
Their attitudes towards us can be clearly seen, according to whether their expressions show pleasure or displeasure, interest or boredom, anger or fear. Often the face is the first part of a person we look at so expressions are used very much in greetings. A universal phenomenon we shall be considering in this section is the eyebrow flash, we will see that facial expressions are very powerful in controlling the type and amount of communication which takes part between individuals.
We shall see that we make personality and other judgements about people on the basis of what we see in their faces. People with attractive faces are often credited with having a number of other attributes, which they may or may not possess. Combined with the more effective use of the eyes, and facial expressions we can take an important step further in our quest for mastery of body language.
So for our little exercise, for the next week at least greet everyone you encounter in the course of your work with a pleasant smile, as if you are genuinely pleased to see them, you don't have to maintain an inane grin on your face. It is sufficient for this exercise that you at least meet people with a smile. Do take note of their reactions to your action. Do they return the smile? Does the encounter appear to proceed better or worse than it would normally have? Does anyone appear to be surprised? Or just suspicious? Does the encounter last longer or is it shorter than it would otherwise have been?
Take note of your own reactions, did you find the exercise easy or difficult? Did you feel silly in carrying it out? If so why? Did you find your attitudes to people changing at all? Did you find yourself disliking them any less? How do you feel when others smile at you? Of the people you meet several times during the week, does there appear to be any change taking place in the relationship between you? Is there any difference in the responses of men and those of women? Or in those of the young and those of the old? Or those of superiors, colleagues and subordinates? Or those of fellow workers where you work, or those of customers or clients? Try to keep a written or taped record of as many reactions as you can.
You will probably have noticed some of the following points.
1/ most people will have returned your greeting smile.
2/ most encounters will have produced more smoothly than normal.
3/ some people those with whom you have a relationship or a mutual dislike, will have been surprised, some with suspicion thinking what's he or she up to?
4/ women tended to respond quicker and more favourably than men, if you are a man, if you are a woman, the reverse will probably be true.
5/ young people will tend to respond more readily than older people.
Let us look at your own reactions? Some points you may have noted are:
1/ after some initial awkwardness, you should have have found the exercise quite easy to carry out.
2/ you should have found your attitudes to others improving and becoming more positive.
3/ you may well have found yourself spending more time with people you dislike and you might even have found yourself disliking them just a little less.
4/ you must like it when others smile at you surely? Well remember that they feel just as pleased when you smile at them.
So until next time take care, and if you like what you have read share with a friend.