In Your Face

Monday, August 15, 2016
In Your Face

Everything just lies there…. Nonverbal communication, especially facial expressions, will always have the final say, and in certain cases, determine the first impression. Or is that so?


Whether we admit it or not, we as human beings are very emotional creatures. Our states of mind can be exposed in an instance through the expressions we bear on our faces.


Common held beliefs suggest that there are six basic emotions universally accepted and easily interpreted; these are: happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger, and disgust. Hence, as we identify these expressions, we instantly assume that we can read people, understand them, and even judge them, just minutes after meeting them. Sadly, our assumptions are mostly off track because our faces can be extremely cunning every now and then. 


Reading faces is an art - and almost a science - called Physiognomy. Our ability to read faces is something acquired by real life experiences over time; however, the accuracy of our skills is another issue to consider. Hence, whenever we have an urge to judge someone and label them as a liar, a snob, or maybe even a hypocrite, for example, let us think twice and consider the below details thoroughly.


It is commonly agreed that much of what we say is never actually spoken, but rather conveyed through our body language. Our facial expressions, in particular, account for more than half of our communication. Our eyes, the so called windows to our souls, are thought to say everything about us in a blink. It is true that there are certain gestures and eye movements that can expose a great deal of our thoughts and intentions; however, this is occasionally inaccurate, not because we are poor judges of character, but because these gestures can be misleading.


Interest in facial expressions and their relation to human behavior has dominated the realms of psychology since the 1960s. However, after 50 years of this phenomenal interest, frowns began to appear on the curious faces of critics and psychologists alike.


Our face, being a mirror to our emotions, is losing traction as advanced studies and sciences are gradually revealing that there is no concrete evidence that supports the link between what appears on our faces and how we really feel inside. Nevertheless, no one can deny the fact that our face still conveys a lot of information about us; yet it is just one of the many tools into our thoughts and emotions.


Think of actors for example. Are they not masters of faking facial expressions? Let us not forget daily stress, lack of sleep, sickness, lack of energy, aging, diet routines, and environmental factors, among many other factors, all work their magic on our faces and render us great con artists.


It is quite common to notice that when we are sleepy or tired, we fail to respond as we usually would when we are in our best shape and most alert state of mind. Hence, our faces react to certain circumstances in relation to how we feel at a particular moment, such as when receiving some news or meeting a certain person. Let us also not disregard our moods, which also play an essential role in how we express ourselves. Reacting to the news of a promotion after a mishap with a dear friend will be felt differently than receiving that promotion as a result of devotion and hard work.


In this light, mood swings, states of mind, and physical wellbeing among other social, physical, psychological, and environmental factors play an important part in coloring the expressions we sometimes wear on our faces. So, judging people or trying to understand them just by the look or expression they hold in their eyes or wear on their lips is not a golden standard anymore; so much more is involved.


Face, voice, gestures, and posture can all help in predicting what a person might do next. But do all these aspects, especially our face, convey how we really feel inside?


Leaving you with an open-ended question is not fair. But these types of questions are what keep our imagination rolling. They will always trigger debates among those of us who are very much interested in diving into the deep, undiscovered waters of human nature.