For example, if you walk into a dark room expecting it to be empty and then a figure jumps out of the corner, you’re going to flash the microexpression of fear. That microexpression of fear might include eyebrows raised and pulled together, raised upper eyelids, and tensed lower eyelids.
The seven main emotions that microexpressions show are sadness, disgust, contempt, anger, fear, surprise and happiness.
The list below shows why microexpressions matter and can help you improve your communication.
Improve Your Understanding
As people grow up, they learn to conceal their emotions and say what they think others want to hear. So, we often miss what others are actually feeling because they only show it for a fraction of a second, and then the rest of their body language and words make us believe something otherwise.
But, if we can catch the initial microexpression that shows their emotion, then we can better understand and connect with them. Also, the best part is that microexpressions are universal. If you’re studying abroad and don’t know the language in another country, then microexpressions can give you another piece to the puzzle of communicating.
Develop Your Sensitivity
No matter the type of relationship (friendship, romantic, or family), people appreciate when you’re sensitive and empathetic. Often times people want you to know how they’re feeling, without telling you directly. And sometimes the people in your life don’t know how they are feeling.
When you have built emotional intelligence through microexpressions, then you can be the girl or guy that people trust when they don’t have it all together or want to talk through an emotion.
If you can understand how your classmate, friend, or professor is feeling in college—and coworker or boss in your future work—then you’ll be able to improve your relationship with them. People enjoy others who understand them, and this can often be helpful in getting the benefit of the doubt on an assignment in school, or getting a promotion at work.
For example, if I think my friend is angry, but he’s really sad, then those are two different feelings that need to be addressed in different manners. Instantly I’m able to improve my communication and listening skills when I know the right emotion.
Find Concealed Feelings
Even as people are trying to hide a feeling, they can’t conceal the microexpression. For communication, negotiation, or safety purposes (to name a few), finding a concealed feeling could make a major difference in your next action.
Also, the more time we spend with people we know, the easier it is for us to understand if something about them is off. That’s why it’s incredible hard to keep a secret from your best friend. But, this task of knowing when something is off gets significantly harder when you’re dealing with strangers. So, try to meet with someone new to practice discovering their microexpressions.
Resources To Help You Learn Microexpressions
First, take this quiz on microexpressions to see where you stand.
No matter how well or how bad you did, you can always improve. If you’re interested in learning more about microexpressions, I recommend getting these three books: What Every BODY is Saying, Spy the Lie, and The Micro Expression Book for Business.
Also, a good place to start is to watch the Netflix show Lie to Me, which is about an expert in microexpressions and body language who uses his knowledge to solve investigations. It is a good show for the entertainment and applicable learning lessons.
Please comment below about how microexpressions could help you in specific scenarios. The more we share, the more we can learn from each other.