I had just finished writing my next Instagram post when I received an email from a woman who was looking for a face message.
“If you have a nice smile, that’s a beautiful face message!”
She smiled and said: “I love it.”
She then added her own smiley emoticon: “Oh, I love it too!”
I started to smile, but then the tone of my reply changed and I realised what I had done was to send the wrong message.
I couldn’t get my head around how to change the content of the message.
“You have to put a smiley face here and a smile in there,” she said.
I looked at her again.
I asked: “What do you mean by that?”
“That’s just what I meant,” she replied.
So, I went back to my original post.
I had changed the message to “Oh, a nice look!” and added “And a smile here and an smile in the middle of it.”
I then changed the text to read: “And that’s just a nice face message.”
The woman smiled and we clicked on the image.
She was delighted and said “That was a nice little smiley emoji, thank you!”
My experience has helped me to realise that if I send a message like that, it has an effect on other people and not just on myself.
The beauty of facial expressions is that they can change the way we feel about someone or something, even if the message is entirely about themselves.
But how do you know if someone is really happy with you?
How do you tell if your message is genuine?
In this article, I’ll share some of the research that shows how to recognise the difference between the tone and content of facial messages and to recognise when you’re being manipulated.
You can read my article on the subject in the Journal of Emotion and Social Psychology.
How do we know if we’re being exploited?
When we create facial expressions we’re looking at people who are already feeling the emotion of happiness.
When someone else feels happiness, we tend to feel happy ourselves, and it’s natural to think we’re helping out those around us.
But the truth is that, in reality, the message we send is often a manipulation of happiness, and not the other way around.
For example, people who feel happy are more likely to look at people and things they enjoy when they are happy, whereas those who feel sad are more inclined to look away.
The sad person is also more likely than the happy person to smile at people they’re interested in.
A smile is an expression of happiness when we’re happy and a signal of sadness when we are sad.
Emotion is a social process and it happens on a regular basis, so if someone else is feeling happy they’re probably happy too.
However, people don’t always look at each other’s happiness.
Sometimes, we’re not aware of how happy someone else looks.
For instance, people may not even notice that someone is happy when they’re looking down on a sad person.
How to recognise an emotion In this way, we can tell whether a message is really sincere or not, because we can take into account the facial expression we’re using when we read it.
If we see someone smiling, we know they’re happy.
If someone is frowning or frowning, we don’t think they’re sad.
But if someone has a neutral expression, like a smile, we think they are.
If the emotion is neutral, like sadness, then we don’ t think they were happy.
We just think they look sad.
This is why people who find happiness and sadness in each other will often smile at each others’ happiness.
In order to get a clearer picture of what you’re doing, consider the following.
What are you doing?
Are you smiling?
Are your eyes moving?
Are there a few small changes in your expression?
If so, then you’re probably smiling, which means you’re happy – and that’s what we’re going to look for.
What do you want to communicate?
Are the expressions different?
Are they the same?
Are these the same facial expressions you’ve used before?
Is your tone different?
Is it a simple smile?
Is there a slight variation in the colour of your eyes?
Are we hearing different words?
Are those small changes enough to give you a clear indication of whether you’re smiling or frowny?
If you’re not sure, try it!
Try to mimic the tone that you normally use in your life.
Do you often look sad?
Do you look happy?
Are each of your facial expressions slightly different?
If not, you’re likely not happy.
Are you saying something that doesn’t make sense?
Are all of the facial expressions that you’re using slightly different, or are they different in tone and meaning?