Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Clothing and Common Sense

Right or wrong, the way you dress is seen as a reflection of who you are and what you’re trying to prove. Imagine you’re interviewing candidates for a position opening up in your workplace. Your first interviewee arrives dressed in jeans and wrinkled oxford shirt. Your immediate thought is “Where’s his suit? I’ve never interviewed anyone dressed so casually.” Now, you might like this casualness about him or you might think he’s a real ding dong for not making more of an effort. The point is, you’ve already made a huge assumption about his personality based on his outfit.

Candidate number two enters dressed in a suit two sizes too large, which makes him look like a childlike and sloppy. Again, your mind jumps to conclusions as you think, “This guy doesn’t even know to buy a suit that fits!” You might pity him and give him a break or you might think that he couldn’t possibly handle the details of your office if he can’t dress himself decently. But again, his clothes have sent a message all their own.

Your third candidate shows up dressed in what appears to be a custom-made suit, leading you to believe that this man is either already very successful or that he knows what it takes to ascend the corporate ladder. You think, “He has a real eye for detail,” which makes you believe he could be an asset to the company.

Of course, an employee cannot survive simply by wearing his clothing well. Each of these men will also display certain body language characteristics. Some of these gestures may suggest extreme confidence; other may betray serious self-doubts. You’ll view these gestures through the lens of your own judgment – and that judgment begins the moment you lay eyes on the men.

The followings are some tips to prepare the interviewees for their next interview. (9GAG.COM)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lying Smiles and other signs of deception

adopted from 'Emotionomics' by Dan Hill 

The presence of a social smile may simply reveal a degree of enjoyment that falls short of spirited, joyful happiness. Consumers or employees who are pleased with what they’ve received may nevertheless not experience an exalted happiness. That’s because, while their expectations were met, they were not exceeded. How they then respond to being satisfied, but not thrilled, could involve the exhibiting of a social smile. But if there’s pressure to be happy about the raise a boss has just given you, for example, the employee may gamely put a happy face on the situation. Or a prospect put off by a salesperson’s overly aggressive style may exhibit a social smile to hide the fact that the deal is headed south.
In those cases, a degree of deception is involved. And later on, the manager or salesperson may wish he or she had been able to tell from the other party’s facial expressions that the end was near. But alas, there is no one muscle movement that categorically reveals deception.
What better example for deceit than the classic clown face?
Painted to look like it’s always full of smiles, one glance beneath the makeup can dispel the myth of continuous merriment.
Facial coding does much the same thing by gleaning true, unfiltered, positive or negative emotional reactions.
Bear in mind that while Adolf Hitler practised his speeches in front of a mirror to test his accompanying expressions, most of us aren’t that deliberate. All of us can adequately guard against ‘two-faced’ people whose smiles aren’t the real thing by being alert to a few, basic situations
or patterns.
In particular, be alert to a polite, masking smile in situations where:
  • It doesn’t involve the whole face. The cheeks will lie flat and still and the eyes don’t narrow as they do during a genuine smile.
  • It lingers too long. A true smile tends to fade around the four-second mark. A false smile may run from five to ten seconds.
  • It has odd timing. A deceitful smile tends to start or end too abruptly or arrive too early or late. A smile may also be deceitful if what the person is saying and the expression are out of sync.
  • It’s asymmetrical and much more pronounced on just one side of the face. That happens because the smile is likely to have been consciously delivered.
  • Finally, watch out for smiles given when the person’s face hints of other, darker emotions at or near the same time. In a case of mixed signals like happiness and anger, be careful not to discount the anger on display.

That last description of a deceitful smile involves what Ekman (1992) calls ‘leakage’. Basically, it amounts to unintended, fleeting glimpses of what the person is really feeling. On a related note, a micro-expression may happen because of ‘squelches’. These occur when a person interrupts his or her natural expression, usually to cover up a negative feeling with a smile. The squelch is something skilled politicians the world over attempt to master.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Learn to Look for Body Language

The scenario goes like this;
A mid polite applause, the speaker shuffled toward the platform, his face registering the look of someone being led to the guillotine. Upon arrival, he set down a pile of notes and sighed audibly. After tugging at his necktie, adjusting his eyeglasses and clearing his throat, he fixed a doleful gaze on the room’s back wall.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here today,” he said. “I have a message of extreme importance for you.”
Many people in the audience were already fidgeting. It was obvious that others were focused elsewhere. Ten seconds after it began, the speech was already over. Why?
To begin with, the speaker set himself up for failure by sending his listeners a double-edged message. What they saw contradicted what they heard, and when this happens, the audience inevitably trusts only what it sees!
Even though the speaker’s words expressed pleasure in addressing the audience, his nonverbal message said, “I don’t want to be here.” Those same words declared that his speech was important to his listeners – but his body indicated that his message wasn’t important to him. Simultaneously, his facial expression gave the appearance that he cared very little about his audience.
None of these visual messages was performed consciously; they were generated by simple nervousness and inexperience. Yet they branded this unfortunate speaker as insincere and indifferent – even though he was none of those things.
Sometimes we learn best by watching others and picking up our cues from them. If you are unsure about what types of gestures, expressions, and other body movements you would like to incorporate into your own speaking style, observing the techniques of others might be a good first step. For instance: 

Become a people watcher. The next time you are at a shopping mall, amusement park or other well-populated area, take some time to observe others. Not only is human behavior fascinating, but watching how others act and react can be invaluable for a speaker studying visual behaviors.
Watch television. Here’s the catch: the sound must be turned down! Vintage shows such as “I Love Lucy” are especially instructive when watching body signals. But even the most straightforward news broadcaster communicates nonverbally; contrast the subtleties of this type of communication with the more exaggerated style displayed in broad physical comedy.
Study photographs. Ever wonder why the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” continues to be popular? Once you’ve studied old family photographs, the reason will be self-evident. Although social conventions of the time may have something to do with the way the people were posed, a great deal can be inferred from the proximity of the subjects, how – or if – they are physically connected, and the nature of their facial expressions.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Exploring Emoticons

Emoticons are important tools when you are trying to convey your feelings to another person electronically. Without vocal inflections, facial expression, and bodily movement, your emotions are difficult to interpret. Emoticons can be helpful in avoiding misunderstanding. No absolute, standard definitions exist for individual emoticons, but many people have common understandings for a variety of these symbols. Generally, emoticons are made to resemble a face. Four examples are provided here. You can easily find additional examples online by using a search engine and the key word emoticons.
:-) Happiness or humor
:-I Indifference
:-Q Confusion
:-O Surprise

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Eye Spy

As you just read, excessive blinking is often a sign of lying; disrupted eye contact is another. When a child can’t look you in the eye while he’s telling you his version of the truth. It’s because he’s afraid of being caught or ashamed of what he’s done, or both. When he stares into your eyes (and makes his own eyes as large as possible), it’s an attempt to say, “I’m looking right at you so you can see I have nothing to hide.”

Another classic sign of anxiety is a flushed face. Some kids turn red faster and more easily than others, so if your child is prone to blushing when someone looks at him the wrong way, then just your accusation could be enough to make his cheeks and neck burn bright red. However, if he’s red in the face as he’s telling you he’s off to play next door, you might want to check on him in about five minutes. There’s good chance he’s really headed down to creek where he’s been forbidden to play.


Most kids don’t perfect the art of lying until they’re around middle-school age, and even then, unless they’re completely devoid of emotion, they’re likely to give away one or two nonverbal cues when they’re trying to pull the wool over their parents’ eyes.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Want to Know If Someone Likes You?

Ever wondered if someone you're attracted to likes you or not, whether someone is your friend or foe, or whether your employees respect you? There's an easy way to find out... try to make them laugh. If the laughter comes easy, the answer is likely yes. If it doesn't, the answer is likely no.

In my bachelor days, I spent many years slowly learning about the ins and outs of the mating market. Somewhere along the way, I noticed one fairly consistent dynamic: whenever a woman I recently met and was talking to would say to me, "You're really funny!", she would always be up for going out with me. In contrast, if I asked someone out who had not laughed at my ever-so-witty remarks, I would often hear about a mysterious boyfriend or busy schedule.

In my first corporate job, I was working on a project team for a few months where I didn't really like my two supervisors all that much. Although I never explicitly told them that, I may have nonetheless communicated my disdain: I didn't laugh at their jokes. To me, they were mostly lame, sometimes offensive. However, the other guys on the project team would always laugh as if the supervisors were highly skilled entertainers. The implications became clear on the day that we all received our performance reviews. While those other guys were smiling at their glowing reviews, I was left wondering whether my subpar appraisal might've been better had I laughed at any of those jokes.

Many years later in grad school (my advisor was Prof. Douglas Kenrick -- now, there's a truly funny guy), I transformed these and many related observations into a psychological theory on humor. I proposed that humor may have evolved as a way to indicate interest toward potential and existing relationships with romantic partners, friends, allies, family members, etc. That is, people initiate humor and gauge the reaction in order to test the social waters. And, just as you're more likely to dab your foot into the pool if you're actually contemplating a swim, you are more likely to be interested in some kind of relationship with a person if you initiate any kind of humor towards them. If the other person is also interested, they should be more likely to perceive you as humorous and respond favorably (laugh), even if you're objectively not all that funny. However, if they're really not interested, then they probably won't find humor in what you say, even if it's your best material.

When we meet new people, it may take a while to figure out whether a relationship (of any kind) is desirable. By initiating humor and responding to it, we can indicate the direction of our interest a little at a time. Similarly, for ongoing relationships, people may have a need to monitor how the relationships are going. Humorous exchange among existing partners or friends allows people to indicate whether they are satisfied or aligned with each other. For example, while working on this theory back in 2002, I noticed one day that my romantic partner was no longer laughing at some of the silly little things that I said or did that used to make her laugh. I told her all about the theory but she insisted that her lack of laughter had nothing to do with dissatisfaction -- she was just worried about other things. Well, a few months later, the relationship crumbled: we separated and never got back together. It turns out that the time when she started not laughing at my jokes was exactly when she started confiding in others.

Humor may serve many functions, but the "interest indicator" theory says that an important one is to indicate relationship interest, whether among potential or ongoing mates, friends, and allies, or among family members. In this way, a humorous exchange feels good because it indicates that the people who we like also like us. On the flipside, a failed humor attempt can sting not necessarily because our joke is being rejected but because we are being rejected.

My colleagues and I ran three studies to test this theory in the mating domain (Li, Griskevicius, Durante, Jonason, Pasisz, & Aumer, 2009). Take a look for more details or listen here. In the meantime, take notice of who makes you laugh and who you are able to make laugh. Just as importantly, beware of those who aren't laughing.