Watch this face
In today’s world, human communication can be increasingly challenging – from digital meet ups to botox-enhanced conversational partners – the further removed we become from each other, the more we realise how vital it is to restore our connections and accurately identify emotion when opportunity allows. While we know that it’s not just our words but also our faces that can tell a story, most of us are not so quick to spot the most revealing facial indicators of all.
Facial expression, micro expression – what’s the difference? We asked psychologist and micro expression expert Job Boersma to explain: “Facial expressions are crucial in conveying our emotions. What can make this problematic is our ability to manipulate the facial muscles and thereby what the other person sees. A micro expression, however, is something beyond our control. Lasting only around a quarter of a second, it happens before we can even think about what our face is doing and reveals one of seven universal emotional states, namely anger, contempt, disgust, enjoyment, fear, sadness, or surprise.”
How can learning to read micro expressions help us make better connections?
Micro expressions are so fleeting that we often miss them. And if we do perceive them, it is usually only on a subconscious level. Learning to detect micro expressions is about doing so with awareness. “Because the next step in the process is interpreting their meaning within the context of the situation,” Job tells us. “For example, an expression of fear – characterised by raised eyebrows, tensed lower eyelids and stretched, open lips – shows us that a person wants to avoid something, while a look of contempt most likely has to do with someone feeling superior to us in some way. Understanding what is at the core of the communication is where the chances lie; once you know what you’re dealing with, you are then able to address it and respond accordingly.”
So, how to become a micro expression master?
To interpret a micro expression, you first have to know what to look for. The ‘dictionary’ for this is known as the Emotional Facial Action Coding System, which supplies an emotion-specific label for different sets of muscle movement. Recognising these sets requires training, which can be followed online at your own pace. Then you’ll be ready to put learning into practice during most daily interactions.
Want to test your skills right now? Find below stuff to train your emotional intelligence:
Emotion Connection app
The Emotion Connection app is designed to help you grow your ability to read other’s emotions and improve your connections with friends, family, and coworkers. The multi-platform app makes emotional connection accessible: practice while waiting for a meeting, on the treadmill, or during your lunch break. Opportunities to develop your emotional intelligence start here!
The Facial Expressions of Emotion
The Facial Expressions of Emotion – Stimuli and Tests (FEEST) is a 2002 computer test that measures the recognition of emotional facial expressions. One of the studies by Paul Ekman. Ekman (Washington D.C., February 15, 1934) is a psychologist and pioneer in research on emotions and facial expressions. Discover at an image taken from the study the slighty differences in the expression related emotions.
You can also test your skills via the Micro Expression test.
Index by images
Anger: piercing eyes, tensed lower eyelids, lowered eyebrows, frowning, pursed lips.
Contempt: one corner of the mouth is raised, the other shows a faint smile.
Disgust: wrinkled nose, upper lip raised, eyes slightly closed, eyebrows down.
Joy: slightly squinting eyes, wrinkles at outer ends of the face and lower eyelids.
Fear: tensed, raised eyebrows, eyes wide open, loose jaws.
Sadness: unfocused eyes, mouth corners turned downwards, lowered eyebrows.
Surprise: raised eyebrows, eyes wide open, loose jaws, open mouth.