serious postCan you tell from my granddaughter’s expression what emotion she is trying to convey?  One rainy afternoon on a family vacation we decided to stay in the hotel room and play some games.  Not sure how it began, but we started taking pictures of each other using different facial expressions to convey certain emotions:  happy, sad, mad, surprised, serious.  What we noticed pretty quickly was the subtle differences each of us used in trying to convey a certain feeling.  Did you know that lowered eyebrows indicate that you are serious but an ever so slight slant inward could easily change that look of seriousness to one of anger or annoyance.  We agreed that this expression from the youngest, mastered the look of serious with a slight wrinkle between her brows – giving the impression that she was thinking deeply.  Her eyes are slightly squinted letting you know that she is concentrating – no joking, or trifling here, folks.

No matter where you were born, currently live or what culture you claim as yours, facial expressions are universal.  In a TV series called “Lie to Me”, experts compared what people were saying with what they were doing with facial and body expressions.  It was fascinating and made me more aware of not only how I viewed others, but how I might be coming across because an expression or position of my arms was in conflict with what I was saying-which was the premise of the show.  If your words and facial/body language didn’t match, you were lying. Even though the term “poker face” was first used to describe a person trying to conceal the value of the hand that was dealt, we sometimes apply the term to those who are so guarded that they force themselves to use restraint in showing how they really feel.  That must be exhausting!  I recently was able to connect with a woman of another culture who spoke very little English, because a warm smile is the vocabulary of universal language.  I couldn’t tell her about, but I know we both felt a connection.  I will be forever grateful that we both listened to the voice with no words and shared a moment as sisters.

Have you ever tried to put on a “poker face” or misread a situation because you misread a facial expression?