Our impression of others is based, in part, upon the other person’s expressive behavior.
Such behavior conveys impressions about much more than truthfulness. Expressive behavior is a major source for impressions about whether somone is friendly, outgoing, dominating, attractive or attracted, intelligent, interested in or understanding of what one is saying, and so on.
Usually such impressions are formed unwittingly, without the person being aware of the particular behavioral clue he considered. If we are aware of the source of one’s impressions, if one knows the rules that one follows in interpreting specific behaviors, corrections are more likely.
Ekman devised a list of basic emotions from cross-cultural research on the Fore tribesmen of Papua New Guinea.
He observed that members of an isolated culture could reliably identify the expressions of emotion in photographs of people from cultures with which the Fore were not yet familiar. They could also ascribe facial expressions to descriptions of situations. On this evidence, he concluded that the expressions associated with some emotions were basic or biologically universal to all humans
List of universal emotions :
Further, due to his forty years of research, he observed and demonstrated that information about thinking and feeling is transmitted via five main channels :
1) Facial expressions – movements of more than 40 muscles in the face that combine to signal actual emotions and cognitive processes. Work by Darwin and other 19th century scientists has been advanced by Ekman and others so that now we know that all humans, irrespective of ethnicity or culture, display seven universal emotions in the same way. In addition, under some circumstances, these emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, contempt and surprise) can be given off involuntarily in less than a fifth of a second, revealing a person’s true feelings. Such fleeting images are referred to as micro-expressions and we can all learn to recognise them.
2) Body language – the non-verbal signals, other than facial, that can reveal what we are thinking and feeling. The research literature in relation to body language and deception is not straightforward and is heavily influenced by myths and cultural variables. Despite this, it can provide an illuminating insight into a person’s thought processes and emotions.
3) Voice – the tone of which includes rhythm, speed, volume and pitch. Interestingly, the voice has in many respects become the dominant channel of communication. As a result, we can pay too much attention to this channel and fail to recognise what is taking place elsewhere
4) Verbal style – the detail, structure, plausibility, contradictions and flow of the words we say. If we know how someone normally responds, and we know their baseline or normal operating behaviour, we can learn a great deal from any change from the baseline. While change from baseline applies to all five channels, it is particularly relevant in verbal style.
5) Verbal content – the words we say or write. Research in this area goes back many decades and continues to seek a language or composition that can discriminate between a credible and a non- credible statement by virtue of the fact that the former is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the latter. This technique provides a language and structure to enable you to articulate what it is that you intuitively believe to be amiss, when otherwise your vocabulary would fail you.
By learning to observe, detect and read the clues transmitted by the different communications channels you will be able to:
- Detect the hidden messages during a communication
- Detect leakage that gives clues to deception
- Adapt our communication style and interact better with others
- Analyse the way we might be perceived