Body Language Part 3

Written by Yinka Bakare

First impressions.

The most critical period in a meeting between two people that are meeting for the first time is in the first 5 minutes. The impression formed in this time will tend to persist and even grow stronger with later behaviour, which will tend to be interpreted not objectively but in the light of these first impressions. If we like what we first see we will over look the things we dont like, and if we dont like what we first see, we will struggle to see any good in that person. Since the face is one of the first features we notice about a person it can clearly play a vital role in the process of establishing relationships with others.

One gesture that appears almost universally at the beginning of the greeting phase between people we know well is the so called eyebrow flash. This consists of a rapid up and down movement of the eyebrows, with an accompanying smile, and it seems to show the person we are about to talk too that we are pleased to see them. It is widely used in all society's. 

 When we first meet someone and look at their face, the first judgement we tend to make is whether we like them or not, whether we find them attractive or un attractive.   

 In these first few minutes we do more than simply decide whether or not we like someone, we make judgements about their character, personality, intelligence, temperament, personal habits, working ability, suitability as a friend or lover and so on. Imagine this is all done unconsciously. 

 This is done on the basis of very little information about the other, and yet we are more often right on these judgements then we are wrong. Ask yourself how often you re call changing your first impression of someone and compare this with the total of all the people you have met.  

We do a-lot of talking with our face, a smile tells people we are pleased to see them, a frown warns them off. A downcast look tells them we are not feeling to happy. A head cocked to one side shows we are listening. We can even use facial impressions to communicate when words are inappropriate. A mother scolds a child and her face tells her offspring she is really upset. The faces main role in the use of body language lies in the expressions of emotions. I would like to add most messages are context dependant when it comes to fully understanding them where we are, what we are doing and with whom. Different parts of the face come into play when observers are perceiving different emotions. Fear is usually looked for in the eyes, as is sadness, happiness is seen in the cheeks and the mouth as well as in the eyes, surprise is seen in the forehead, eyes and mouth movements. Differences has been observed in the ways men and woman use facial expressions when communicating. A woman tends to laugh and smile more than men, but more often because they find the situation slightly uncomfortable than out of greater sociability.


People tend to talk less, make more sperch errors and smile more when attempting to deceive others than when being completely open and honest. If you smile the world smiles back, because the smile is probably the most universally used and most positive facial expression, it will be useful if we examine it in a little more detail here. Smiles are used by children who have been blind from birth, when they are pleased they smile. Smiles are also used to show reassurance, amusement and even ridicule. Experiments have shown that if individuals are asked to smile and are then shown pictures of various events, they report that the pictures please them and even make them feel elated.  


If you would like to i have a few excersizes and expierements for you to try out. 

Face excersizes:

1)to develop muscle tone in your face, try each of these exercises for one minute everyday.  

1a)Starting from the face at rest, grin broadly preferably lifting the eyebrows at the same time.

1b)Starting from the face at rest,pucker the lips into a tight round O. 

1c)Starting from the face at rest,lift the chin as high as it will go, raise your eyebrows alternateley grin and pucker.  

Do these excersises infront of a mirror if you can.  

Stop frowning:

2) when you have any concentrating to do, place your palm across your forehead. If you find you are frowning stop it. If you have to move your face at all, try raising your eyebrows so that your forehead creases horizontally rather than vertically. You will find that one result of this excercise is to make you less prone to headaches.  

Show your feelings

3) Infront of a mirror practice each of the following emotions in sequence. 




D) Disgust

E) Fear

F) Anger

So if you can secure the help of someone else see if they can identify each emotion from your expression. Vary the sequence to make the task a little more difficult for them you can take turns.  

This exercise will tell you how well you express your feelings. It will also tell you how good your partner is at recognising emotions, you can reverse roles once your partner has fully grasped the nature of the excercise and you may even be able to involve others. It can make a useful little party game with points given for accuracy in recognition.  

So until next time keep safe, if you like what you have read here feel free to share with a friend.