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Reading faces; nonverbal communication

If a face is like a book, can you read it?
If a face is like a book, can you read it?

Is that love you see in her face? Or did she just bite a jalapeno pepper? Believe it or not, the two can look a lot alike.

Strong emotions make our hearts beat faster which gives a nice glow to the face. So does biting a jalapeno pepper. Love, anger, and hate all give us the cherry pink blush to the cheek, so what else can we look for?

Reading emotions in a face is really difficult but there are some clues to help you. Remember that there are no guarantees in the tea-leaf world of reading emotions.

There are more than two dozen expressions in the eyes and eyebrows and they are multiplied by the number of emotions we can feel. Raised brows, open mouth or eyes are usually surprise or pleased; closed down may mean anger or frustration.

Here are some clues to reading a face:

  1.  Emotions can zip across a face faster than a Vette on the 65, so you have to pay attention.
  2.  Look for exaggerated expressions, raised eyebrow, pursed lips, or squinting. You can usually tell a fake smile because it looks glued on and stays there. 
  3. Check the expressions when no one knows you're watching. People let their guard down and show the truth when they think they are alone.
  4. Compare what you hear with what you see. "I'm fine" with a grimace tells you the words don't say the truth. Just like "I love you" when the eyes glance away leaves a question in the air.

Eye contact can mean extra $$$ sometimes.   Strong, direct eye contact in a business situation,  like better tips for a server in a restaurant or the other person feeling more willing to help you. Students can improve their relationships with teachers just by using good eye contact.

If it's time to end a relationship, a good way to start is by glancing away and not meeting the other person's gaze. Of course that can also be considered a sign of guilt so be careful how it's used.

Want to have fun? Go to a mall or public place and see how people react when you use strong facial expressions, like a huge smile or pulled down eyebrows and a pout. You'll be surprised at the reactions you get.

Coming up: Reading hand gestures; Reading body language

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