”Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important” – Janet Lane
Facial expressions set the tone for people’s interaction with you. A good facial expression will influence people to respond positively to you, which in turn will make you happy and continue to have a positive facial expression. A bad facial expression will turn people off and they will react more coldly to you, which in turn will sustain your bad mood and self-fulfilling facial expression prophecy. To understand how important it is, let’s see what it’s like from the receiving end of a facial expression:
“How are you?” It is hard to tell whether this person is asking politely, or if they actually care about the answer. We also don’t know what mood this person in. Without a facial expression or an indication of emotion, you don’t have enough information and that makes it difficult to answer the question.
“How are you?” A smile gives the impression that the person is happy to see you and actually wants to know how you’re doing.
“How are you?” A confused face or no emotion could feel like the person is unsure of him or herself, probably doesn’t care about the answer, and probably wouldn’t know what to do with an honest answer anyway, so you’re less likely to spend the time and energy needed to give a heartfelt response.
“How are you?” This gives the impression that the person is mad at us, or the person is unhappy and upset right now for other reasons. However, depending on our relationship, it may be unfair for this person to direct their negative energy at us with their facial expression, it may drive people away. Alternatively, if this person is with friends, it’s a good thing because it is a clear call for help.
Not only does the facial expression set the tone of the reaction, but by setting the tone it influences the reaction, and if you want to have a good life, it’s best to influence a positive reaction rather than a negative reaction. Use this both in your real life, and your online life, and enjoy the improvements to your life!
Tinney Davidson is an elderly woman who waves and smiles at students who walk by her home on their way to school, every day. Her simple act brightened the day for the students, and became a source of consistent happiness for the community. This news story about her impact demonstrates the power a smile, and therefore facial expressions, can have.
- Can you tell the emotion given a facial expression? Take the NY Times Quiz
- College Humor Video [Language Warning]