Updated: May 24, 2021
Facial expressions are the gateway of our feelings to be visible to others. It will help people understand the way we feel and the message we are trying to deliver. After all, over 50% of communication is visual, and over 90% is non-verbal.
From rolling our eyes, to having blushed cheeks, or knitting your eyebrows together, to simply having a small smile; these are all just small examples that are strong enough to change the whole meaning of what you are trying to say.
Imagine saying: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” with a loud voice, looking straight in the other person’s eyes, crossed eyebrows, leaning forward. It will show anger and disappointment to the other person.
Or try saying the same thing, standing straight, eyes wide open, raised eyebrows, with a smile on your face and a low tone of voice. It will show happiness, surprise, or even gratitude. Basically, you changed the whole message delivered to the other person without changing a word in that phrase.
But why do I have to be conscious of my facial expressions? What impact will it have on my behavior? My feelings?
Let’s think about it from a different perspective. Not from what people are interpreting from my facial expressions, but what my mind is reading and reflecting on my feelings and then behavior, even when I’m alone.
So, you are sitting at your desk at work, and you receive an email from your manager stating that you have passed the deadline of a project and this is not acceptable, knowing that you did try your best, but some external factors affected your performance negatively. Your facial expressions change immediately from neutral, to showing frustration and stress. And it might trigger your anxiety as well. Here, try to sit back, take a deep breath, and smile. You will notice that your mindset will start changing from “frustrated” to “forward thinking”. Whereas, if you keep frowning and squeezing your lips out of stress, your behavior and attitude will also reflect that face.
Here’s another example: you’re walking on a sidewalk, and as you pass by others, you are having a nice small smile with hazy eyes. What positive impact will it have on your emotional state? How will you feel versus when you are looking down with a sad face? You will be more confident, positive, approachable, optimistic. This can even open doors for new connections.
If you find it hard to convert an angry face to a calm and happy one, try thinking of a joyful moment that you had in your past, a nice memory, like a trip you once did. Or an incident with your best friend that made you laugh out loud. Or a remarkable date with your significant other. And you will see how your facial expressions will start changing instantly. What I’m trying to say is that emotions and feelings will show on our facial expressions, but it also works the other way around. The signs that we have on our faces can affect our emotional state, whether negatively or positively.