By Carol Kinsey Goman, writing for CommPro…
I was once asked by the Senior Vice President of Human Resources to work with a leader whose micro-management was limiting her team’s effectiveness. When I met with the client, (let’s call her Judith), she was effusive with her praise – going on and on about how much she had heard about me and how delighted she was to have me as her coach. I noticed that her smiles, however bright, were seldom genuine.
Smiles are often used as a polite response to cover up other emotions, but these social smiles involve the mouth only. Unless you are expressing genuine pleasure or happiness, it’s hard to produce a real smile – the kind that crinkles the corners of the eyes and lights up the entire face.
Knowing that, I expected to discover that Judith wasn’t as delighted with me as she claimed, and that she was putting on a show for the HR executive’s sake. As time went on, it became clear that was the case. Judith had no interest in working with me (or any other coach), and no intention of changing her management style.
The one area of body language that is identical in all cultures is the seven basic emotions that people around the world express, recognize, and relate to in the same way. Discovered and categorized by Paul Ekman and his colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco, the universal emotional expressions are joy, surprise, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and contempt. Here is how they can be identified.
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