Facial Expressions – The Meaning Under The Mask

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Most of us are guilty of this. We don’t listen. As in, we don’t listen to what others are saying. This means that we don’t get the message of what is being said. Even worse, we are not catching the facial expressions of the people talking to us.

What are we doing instead of listening? We are thinking about our shopping list, that we are hungry, when was the last time I had water, what is for dinner, what is that person over there doing, did I leave the stove on, and so forth.

The worst part is that we are thinking about what we are going to say next. It is essential to understand that this is a bad habit to get into and is something we all should work on.

Man that cannot hear you

Not Just What You Say

I’m sure we have all heard that it is not just what you say but also how you say it. Over the last few years, I’ve been interested in not only what others are saying, but HOW they are saying it.

I think this started with my old job many years ago. I quickly began to learn to watch people’s faces to see what they were trying to say, or hide (not to mention, and I learned quickly that you need to watch people’s hands too. That could be an entirely different article in itself).

This helps to make sure what words are being said are matching the facial expressions. It might seem complicated, but once you start listening and watching, you can spot when things don’t add up. I found that then asking some “Clarifying Questions” come in handy. These additional questions not only show that you were listening but that you want to make sure you truly understand the person talking.

It’s truly amazing what you miss if you are only listening to words. Often, people will say one thing, but their bodies say something completely different. This leads us to micro-expressions on people’s faces. Learning a few of these will allow you to understand what others are saying. It might even help with those “Misunderstandings” you have with your significant other (maybe if I paid more attention, I wouldn’t be divorced, but I digress).

What Are Microexpressions?Angry woman

I’m so glad you asked, they are regular involuntary expressions that last between a half-second to four seconds. There is quite a lot of research done behind them, and I’m not going to get super techie. The crazy part is that these facial expressions cannot be faked! Yep, you read that right.

The good news is there are only a few that you need to be aware of.

I have taken a few classes on learning to read people, and it is not something that happens overnight. Since I was curious about reading more about them, I found a book on the subject. The book I read was called Captivate. What is even better is that the author, Vanessa, also has a YouTube channel (called Science of People).

So needless to say, this is one of the websites I frequent and is called Science Of People. The crazy cool thing is that Vanessa is a recovering awkward person (her words and many of us can relate) and covers micro expressions in great detail here. Not only is it explained way better than I ever could, but some videos will help you spot them.

What is the downside of learning all this information? One of the most significant issues is that pretty much everyone is wearing a face mask or covering of some sort. I think you would say that this poses an awkward situation, or does it?

Mask and lady holding toilet paper

Facial Expressions – Under A Mask

I’m happy you read this far! Have you checked out the Science of People yet? If not, that is okay, because you will defiantly want to click on the video I mention next.

So you are on the same page as me. You are intrigued about facial expressions, but how the heck do you read a face when a mask is covering it?

Well, it can be super tricky, but there might just be something you can do about it. Watch the eyes of the person talking.

I went to my favorite website on this subject. I was not surprised at all to find they had already posted a video for this specific topic. If you are interested I highly suggest you watch the video below, or simply click here. In this video, Vanessa does a great job of explaining what to look for.

Great Responsibility

Not sure how many of you have watched the TV show, Lie To Me. But it is about a guy that can spot micro-expressions and has an exciting way of getting to the truth. I think it’s a well-done show that is very entertaining to watch. It also makes you aware that if you become a master with reading micro-expressions, you will remember the saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

There is a lot we can focus on once we master a few simple ques. I have even noticed now that I am focusing more on what people are saying than I ever did before.

I’m not just focusing on what I’m going to say next but listening to what others are saying. You will even start to realize that you are forming deeper connections with others. So let me ask you, and be honest, when was the last time you were listening to what your partner said? And not thinking about what you were going to say next. Let me know in the comments below!

What Do You Think?

So now you know that it’s not just what you say but also HOW you say it. I think this is why when you ask, “Are you okay,” and the response is, “I’m fine.” There might just be some underlining issue or resentment. All you need to do is listen and be sure to look at their face. That way, you can tell if they are honest, angry, sad, or up to something to follow up on.

I hope this helps pique your interest and curiosity into facial expressions. If you watched the video above, or check out the Science of People, please let me know in the comments below! I would be interested in stories or if this is something you are interested in as well.

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2 thoughts on “Facial Expressions – The Meaning Under The Mask”

  1. I find all of this very intriguing. Unless of course you use it against me…


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