Should You Learn to Understand Microexpressions?
Do you feel butterflies in your stomach just before a job interview or a sales presentation in front of a large audience?
Have you asked yourself “How will I know if they like my answers at the job interview?” or “What questions might they ask me? or maybe “I hope they don’t notice I feel nervous.”
Have you ever asked yourself any of these types of questions? How do they make you feel? Do they empower or do they disempower you?
In this article, we will address why you learn to read microexpressions. The skill to read and understand subtle facial expressions and microexpressions is a robust interpersonal communications skill that’ll give you a psychological edge in complex interpersonal interactions at a job interview, negotiations, sales presentations and in your personal life.
Now Imagine you’re right in the middle of answering a question in a job interview and you see the interviewer’s nostril twitch but he’s smiling. You think the person is pleased by your answer because he’s smiling. But the person could actually be demonstrating a microexpression of disgust! [Surprised?]
Unfortunately, because you´ve misinterpreted the interviewer’s response to your answer, you continue answering in your current line. This is not a good thing if you want that job position.
Sometimes we feel oblivious when it comes to gauging the feelings of others, especially when we meet someone new. During your conversation, people are continuously communicating unconsciously what we’re saying.
You and me continual are transmitting signals that map your true emotions through very rapid facial expressions — or microexpressions. Which can occur within a flash, a 20th of a second!
The research of understanding and reading microexpressions started with Darwin and was developed much more by Paul Ekman.
Applying and reading microexpressions is very insightful for understanding the feelings and psychology of other people.
Firstly, microexpressions are the same across all cultures and societies. An example — your client in Frankfurt, the Managing Director in Beijing or the principal supplier in India will express contempt through the nearly identical non-verbal movements of their facial muscles.
The second point that’s good to be aware of is that microexpressions don´t change due to demographics, age, gender, education etc—To you, that means Customers, suppliers, and associates will express anger with the same fleeting non-verbal facial expressions.
My experience of the past 25 years or so. Having worked in more than 90 countries as a consultant and advisor has involved me in close interactions with thousands of professionals both in government and many Fortune 500 companies, across various demographic groups.
Here’s a 3-step method that can help you leverage people’s microexpressions.
WATCH – Imagine you’re in the middle of answering a question and during your response and one nostril of the interviewer’s mouth goes up for an instant. You’ve just commented on some new industry forecast that you thought would impress the interviewer. If you practice how to read non-verbal cues and microexpressions, you will know how to identify the microexpression that represents disgust.
IDENTIFY – Now you ask yourself: Why did this person have that facial reaction? Did I say something they didn´t like or something I shouldn’t have said? Perhaps they didn´t understand me?
RESPOND – Identifying the response, you adjust or calibrate your next statement in the interview
In addition, this provides you with a great opportunity to show the interviewer your interpersonal communications skills, even though it was not explicit, and ask if you need to clarify anything or what is the interviewer’s opinion of your industry forecast. It’s also a great way to engage the interviewer and show that you’re a great active listener, which is so important in business today.
All of this can happen within a flash, so being lightning fast is key. The skill and ability to be able to read and understand nonverbal body language can instantly tell you how the other person is feeling. Having this ability to read microexpressions is a powerful tool that’ll give you psychological leverage in complex interpersonal interactions such as job interviews, negotiations, sales presentations and personal life.
Here are a number of resources that can help you recognize, understand, and respond to microexpressions. You may also want to look up the 7 universally acknowledged microexpressions, each of which is mapped to specific facial expressions.