What you say is important, but did you know that what you don’t say can be just as important? What is your face saying? Your facial expressions are a window to your every emotional state. As you feel calm, anger, excitement, and happiness, the muscles in your face react accordingly to tell others how you are feeling.
Think of a time someone told you a vivid story and their face was expressing the emotions contained within those previous experiences. You may see a frown on someone’s face when they recount a sad story or a smile as they tell you a funny joke. In these cases, you are reading the emotions that they are feeling.
However, many of us are completely unaware of the emotions our faces convey to others, even though social scientists estimate that more than half of our communication comes through this way. This means that in many cases, the message on your face may be more powerful than the words you are speaking. As a result, whenever you are speaking with others, it is important to ensure that the facial expression you wear matches the emotional content of the message you are trying to convey. For example, if you are trying to tell a friend about some good news you just received, you wouldn’t want to have an angry look on your face. Instead, a smile would be much more appropriate.
It is important to be conscious of your facial expressions and the messages they are conveying. Often, this is second nature and will be appropriate to the situation, but in some cases, you must be careful not to convey the wrong message.
Take, for example, when you approach someone you would like to meet. You may be nervous, but you probably don’t want to look scared or unhappy. This could convey the wrong message and give others the wrong impression. A smile would give a far better impression and better match the message you are trying to give. Plus, studies have shown that a smile doesn’t just make you look happy—it can actually make you feel happy as well, and it is contagious. So, remember that a smile can go a long way.
To better understand what your facial expressions are communicating, try making faces at yourself in front of a mirror. It might feel silly, but it will give you an idea of what you look like when you are expressing specific emotions. This will help you to gain better control of what your face communicates to others.
However, the best way to control your facial expressions is to practice with others. Learning how to communicate with your facial expressions is an important part of your overall social skills, and like any skill, the best way to learn is through practice.
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