Thursday, May 04, 2006

What Does My Face Say?

It happened again this week. I was meeting with a member of my new BNI chapter, Partners For Success. The member shared that she had been really apprehensive about our one on one appointment. This is so frustrating to me because I am NOT a scary person at all. But I hear that same comment over and over again. Even in my early personal life an old boyfriend (very long aog!) told me that he didn't ask me out for months because of the image I transmitted.

Malcom Gladwell, in his book, Blink, tells of Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen, who created a, "taxonomy of facial expressions" by studying the movements of the muscle actions of the face. These two researchers catalogued how those muscle actions are perceived.
I think I look friendly, and I try to smile alot. I wonder what muscle in my face is doing its stretching exercises when it would be better for me if it would just lie quietly. And my other question is, how do we attach definitions to these muscle workings? What makes us use the word fun or serious?

What do people say to you about their first impression of you? Do you like it?


Sandy of Sandy's Stuff for Women said...

I know what you mean. When I'm not smiling, my face appears to be frowning. I've often had people, even strangers (!!!) ask me why I'm so sad. Trying to remember to appear to be smiling (or at least not frowning) isn't easy, but I try.

Merri said...

You know, I had a roommate in college - Brenda - whom I dearly love. Once I got to know her, I found her to be one of the warmest people I've known. She has great maternal instincts, she is complimentary, she is genuine.

Nevertheless, her natural look APPEARS to be a frown. For many in the world today, natural looks are frowns. That is not by design, and yet that is the case.

As Sandy implies, if we don't know that, we will get some unexpected comments from people. If we do know this, we must have as our focus to lighten up.

I'm a communication coach - yet I also know that my non-verbals can be very misleading, or very telling, devpending on the moment.

My advice? If we're at all concerned about the impression we are giving, often look in the mirror without changing our look. We'll see what others see.