A face is a face is a face, right? WRONG! Whether you realize it or not, your facial expression and body language send a powerful message about your attitude and approachability – even more than your words do. Your expressions can also contradict what you are saying or trying to communicate.
Before someone speaks or interacts with you they have made a decision about how approachable and “safe” you are based on your facial expressions. Research reveals that we make an initial decision of a person’s trustworthiness in less than one second. From that point onward, we continue to evaluate the person’s actions, words, behaviors and intentions based on our interactions to validate or modify our first impressions.
Here are some guidelines for doing a face and body language assessment to determine your approachability:
What do people see first?
- Smile or frown?
- Direct eye contact or gaze past or through the person?
- Emotionally intensity or relaxed demeanor?
- Straight back and relaxed shoulders or hunched back and raised shoulders?
- Energy – positive / engaging / inviting or negative / withdrawn or repelling?
- Body – arms and torso pulled back or turned or open and inviting?
Relax; you’re not going to get it right all the time. Because you’re human, you will be affected by events, emotions, and your environment. The point is to be more aware and start to intentionally create a “yes” face and the body language to support it.
Remember the adage “Your actions speak louder than your words” and, your face communicates more than you realize. Smile!