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Micro-expressions – A way into people’s minds

Hey it’s Dr Ro, hope you’re well. 

I wanted to talk about a subject which I think for a lot of you, that happened to be working with Zoom a lot or in front of audiences or face-to-face with people you may already be asking this question, but it is a question that gets asked a lot. 

People search this for understanding facial gestures, micro-expressions and how do I read that? 

If you were with me recently on our CWI event, we did a whole section on this and some of the testimonials that came off the back of these people were blown away. 

It’s knowing how to observe somebody and get the right information from their face but also how do you trigger that information response from the other person because the face, the body right down to the feet gives so many tells, so many clues as to what is happening in this conversation. 

The facial gestures and the micro-expressions that the eyes give off the muscles here, our breathing around our mouth and all the gestures that happen around the mouth all of those give massive, massive clues as to what is actually happening in that person’s mind, their emotional reaction, the intellectual reaction to what you’re saying. Three things I will give you here that will certainly start you on that path. 

First thing is this, you need to frame up the situation. So are you looking at them on the screen? Are you looking at them on zoom call, are you doing a face time with them on the phone? Are you face-to-face with them in a meeting with them? The term frame here in the context of what we’re talking about is actually how you position their face, if they’re too far back I know directors of companies that do not come on to zoom call and believe it or not, they will not have their face seen in and they prove other people to do the same thing. 

Now if you’re a director of a company you’re responsible for running the business and communicating effectively and you’re not even giving your employees, partners an opportunity to share the communication in the most open way we’re losing a huge part of the conversation because we’re not seeing that person’s face. This is a big mistake people make. You need to get the frame clear. So ideally you want to be able to get their face and as you are talking to them, looking at their face in the call. 

So what happens is you would ask a specific question and the deeper question goes closer to a question gets to the truth of the matter the more reaction you get from that person. We had a great example of somebody who just recently came on to a live event with us CWI and I was asking some random questions and I picked one question which I saw a tiny micro-expression on his face. He twitched a bit and looked up and then there’s a slight frown. 

All these muscles here even in the nostril breathing patterns give loads of clues away. If you know how to interpret by initially establishing what their baseline is and questions first and then you go in with another question that creates a reaction you can gauge whether that reaction is the truth or falsehood and possibly a reaction, fear driven response. 

The key thing with micro-expressions is get a clear frame, then start asking some fairly neutral questions moving into something a bit deeper. I teach people how to get to the real number and of course as I got there as you observe their reaction do they pullback? 

Do they frown, get excited, their pupils change, their eyes change, the lips tighten? All these things give us clues and a combination of those things with the body gives us a massive indication of where they’re at. The third thing is the minute you establish that somebody has reacted to a question, maybe they’re moving into the camera and are more engaged with you or moving away from the camera. A slight move in the torso gives lots of clues away, by the way, and based on that you then reframe you adjust your question, you conversation, you steer in a different direction, pullback, redirect, you drill deeper down the rabbit hole getting into the solution. 

We had a lot of coaches, for example, on my last event and this is my specialist area. I haven’t come across a situation I can’t drill hard enough to get to the truth. 

A lot people I speak to in business I’ll just sit and watch and they don’t realise that I’m literally reading what they’re thinking and through that I’ll put a few pointers out and ask a few questions and I can adjust what I’m saying to bring myself to a conclusion or to bring the meeting or the situation to a conclusion that’s more productive for everybody. 

Learning to read the face understands it’s very, very powerful and those of you that may be coming and spending more time on the other live events that we do CWI then you’ll find out more about this. 

For now, do start to think about this when watching people. Dr Ro signing out happy observations.

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