Mixed Signals

Are you saying one thing, while your face says otherwise?
Magazine Contributor
1 min read

This story appears in the December 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Admit it, you've used flattery to pump up your staff. But do you really mean what you're saying? Your employees can tell--just as business allies can tell if your negotiations are honest, and competitors can sense if you're fearful.

Dan Hill, facial-coding expert and author of Emotionomics: Winning Hearts and Minds, says facial expressions are universal across cultures, and muscles on a person's face are triggered by true emotions. "People give away more than they realize," says Hill, who studies the topic as president of research-based consultancy Sensory Logic. "The face is the dominant vehicle we look to for what's actually going on." Signs of a disconnect between your words and facial expressions can lead to distrust from your audience.

But what if knowing the truth would be detrimental to your audience? Rather than trying to be dishonest, Hill suggests choosing to be opaque instead. "Camouflaging with a social smile or a poker face will mix the signals," he explains. "Hopefully, that will offset a momentary flash of fear or anger."

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