What is it about the human face that makes us so interesting?
Facial Expressions are responsible for a large portion of our nonverbal communication. Consider how much information can be conveyed with a smile or a frown. The look on a person’s face is often the first thing we see, even before we hear what they have to say. There are 6 basic universal expressions that can be determined throughout any culture which include; happiness, anger, disgust, surprise, fear and sadness.
While nonverbal communication and behavior can vary dramatically between cultures, the facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, and fear are similar throughout the world.
Which emotion is easiest to communicate across cultures and which one is most prone to misunderstandings? The easiest one to communicate is happiness. Being nice and pleasant is easy to communicate, it’s free, and has the most impact. All other emotions are prone to misunderstanding
There are many advantages to being skilled at nonverbal communication. For example, in the context of intercultural communication, the main advantage is that if you are skilled at identifying nonverbal communication you can travel around the world and be able to have effective intercultural interactions even without knowing the language.
What messages are we sending to our employees and stakeholders through our nonverbal communication and facial expressions?
Our facial expressions and nonverbal communication should always be congruent. Congruency is defined in the World Dictionary as the “communication pattern in which the person sends the same message on both verbal and nonverbal levels.” Meaning that our expressions should match our behavior and feelings. When verbal language and body language are congruent, this works to enhance the overall quality of the message and allows it to resonate with the individual receiving the message.
For example, if in the workplace you disagree and you want to say “no”, you need to make sure that your words are chosen correctly. Your body language must show that you really mean “NO,” and your energy must be confident and in line with your message. This makes you more believable and your colleagues will respect you more. If your message is not communicated in a congruent way, others might not take you seriously and can undermine what you have said.
Overall, check your facial expressions and body language, what you say and how you say it. If you are really convinced that you mean what you say and your message is communicated congruently, you will see that others will understand you better and you will be more respected in your workplace.
Karyn Suárez, Executive Coach and Public Speaking Trainer