When thinking about facial expressions and how they impact the feelings and emotions of those around us, several phrases come to mind: “the eyes are the windows to the soul” and “when you smile the whole world smiles with you.”
While scientists continue to find out exactly how emotions and facial expressions of those emotions actually work – another “chicken and the egg” type scenario – it is important to realize that the facial expressions we wear reflect and affect the people we come in contact with.
It all boils down to communication. With the electronic age, many of us have become aware that sometimes the actual intended meaning of email messages are lost because we can’t see the expression of the person writing and sending the message. We can’t see if the person is sneering or smiling, frowning or winking--and not seeing those expressions can make a difference in how we interpret the message and how we react to that message.
Even in face-to-face situations where we can read facial expressions, messages are misinterpreted. Think of the last time someone said something that was supposed to be a joke, but was said with a straight face.
Our ability to effectively communicate and draw the right response from others, or to provide the right kind of support to others, comes down to being able to include accurate facial expressions – and observation of facial expression – to our interactions.
But facial expressions go beyond simply visually presenting our feelings and moods to others – they can actually change the day-to-day lives of those around us.
“A person’s face can do more than mirror the individual’s mood…it can create a mood for that individual…if you start your day with a scowl, before long you will become sullen and angry” (www.businessknowhow.com). People respond to facial cues. The emotions they observe on your face helps them understand how you’re feeling, what your words mean, and empathize with your situation. Their return facial expression can tell you if they’re getting the message you’re trying to portray or not.