I can share stories of facial body language that stir within me strong emotions both good and bad. I’m thirty four years old now. After many years of working directly with people, I have sharpened my interpersonal skills. I have gotten really good at reading peoples body language, especially when it comes to their facial expressions.
Understanding body language does require learning, practice, and experience. I remember when I was a young teenager. A girl invited me to her house during our school lunch break. Her parents were not home and we ate lunch together. Before it was time to leave for school again, she called me into her bedroom. She stood there looking radiant. Her eyes had a glow, they seemed wide and darker. I smiled and felt totally connected with her. Years later, I now realize that her body language especially her facial body language, were giving me cues and signs that she wanted our relationship to be physical. If I only knew, what I know now.
I’m really grateful to God that I can understand facial body language in the work place. There have been times with my superiors when they would say something with their words, but their facial body language was telling me something different. In one meeting, my supervisor asked me questions that I truthfully answered. She remained silent but I noticed her nose pinching up and she would look away to her right. This facial body language told me she didn’t believe me. I was able to point out that it didn’t seem she believed me. This opened the door for her to share her opinion and feelings. Otherwise, she would have never told me exactly how she felt; allowing friction to build up between us.
In one of my meetings with a subordinate, I could tell the person was burning out and tired. I would give him opportunities to share how he feels and what he thought he needed to be refreshed. Instead, he displayed denial in his facial expressions. He was too proud to admit to his tiredness. I explained I could tell by his face that he was both tired and in denial about his energy level at work. I gave him some time off and asked him to consider a different position in the company. He gladly accepted and also thanked me for being a good leader.
Understanding facial body language has also helped me tremendously at home. Observing what my wife and children are really saying or feeling with their faces has helped me be a better husband and father. They often tell me they appreciate my sensitivity and empathy in talking and working with them.
I remember my wife adamantly saying she was fine after a phone call with her sister one day. But I could tell with her sullen face and frown that something did not go well. I encouraged her to talk about it, which she did. This helped her feel a lot better of course. Some husbands or friends would’ve dismissed her sullen face and frown for a bad day or too pre occupied with their own lives to care. Understanding facial body language helps one be a better person.