Have you ever thought about how the expression on your face influences how other people react to you?
I’ve been watching my daughter in different situations and it dawned on me that when she is feeling uncomfortable or nervous, such as in a group situation or meeting someone new, she looks down and has an almost frown/almost grimace on. I’ve asked what she is feeling when she looks like that and she said she’s a little nervous, but that’s it. If I were not someone who knew my daughter well, I’d assume from the look on her face that she was grumpy.
My daughter has always been extremely good at reading facial expressions and so I just assumed she was aware of her own. This incident made me realize that the two skills are not the same. So very carefully, I initiated a discussion about facial expressions. We played with different ones and said what we thought as observers of these expressions. Together we decided that a grumpy looking face is not one that we would feel very comfortable going up to and starting a conversation with. In fact, we’d probably avoid that person.
Now my sweet daughter who tends to get a little nervous is trying to remember to look up and smile when she is around new people or in a group. Of course, she still puts on the grumpy face sometimes because it is hard to not do what one is so conditioned to doing. It takes a lot of courage to smile and look up when you are feeling like maybe you’d rather just hide. But the reality is she doesn’t want to hide; she wants to socialize, she’s just a little nervous.
Have you realized how your facial expressions affect those around you and influence how they treat you? How did you learn to make yourself aware of what you were expressing and if it was what you wanted to be expressing?