A taste of my own medicine; I get to analyse myself!

Courtney Waller and Sophie Zadeh

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with Filmmaker, Courtney Waller, from Courtney Waller Productions. Courtney was interviewing me, and of course, we got to talk about my favourite topic; body language.

As a Body Language Specialist, part of my job entails playing back video footage, over and over. This is to audit the body language of people seeking to improve their presence and charisma, seek nonverbal cues that point towards deception or seek interesting nonverbal cues that I can use to educate others on the topic. I'm not usually on the other side of the camera. So it was a little unnerving to think that this was being recorded as a video, with capability of being played back for analysis; a taste of my own medicine.

You can see the interview with Courtney here, then read on for a snippet of my own analysis: 

Fortunately on playing it back, I didn't find any horrors, but what it did reconfirm, is that I smile so much! You're probably thinking that smiling a lot is a good thing and in a way, it is. If you watch the video, you'll hear me talk about smiling and I mention the Facial Feedback Hypothesis; researchers have found that what we do with our facial expressions and our body can alter the way we feel within ourselves. We already know that if we feel an emotion, we express it on our face, but what we now know, is that the reverse is also true. If we express an emotion, it triggers receptors in the brain that make us feel the emotion we express. This is the reason that emotions are contagious. When in the company of someone that is feeling and expressing a deep emotion, mirror neurons in our brain fire, as we mirror their expression, over and over, at a fraction of a second each time. After a while, we start to feel their emotion. This is the basis of empathy. This is very powerful to know, because it gives us control over how we feel. We can choose to hang around with happy people, or to distance ourselves from those who express negative emotions. And we can fake a genuine smile to trigger happiness in ourselves and in others. So smiling is both, positive and powerful. 

When I say I smile too much, it's because smiling is my baseline; my usual expression. And yes, I am usually happy, which is great. However, at times throughout my life, it has got me into trouble! One time, as a child, I was publicly shamed in a school assembly, when the guest speaker turned his attention to me and accused me of laughing at his sombre topic. I wasn't laughing and I did empathise with the gravity of his topic, but my permanent grin was clearly the wrong affect. At times, I was accused as the instigator of trouble, which was far from true. As a goody-two-shoes I would rarely step out of line, so as to avoid attention. But to an outsider, I looked mischievous! By the way, if you have found and read the hidden page on my website, you will already be aware of some of these secrets. ;)

My smile made me look mischievous. And as you can see from my scruffiness, my presentation skills also left a lot to be desired!

My smile made me look mischievous. And as you can see from my scruffiness, my presentation skills also left a lot to be desired!

As an adult, I've managed to gain some control over my smile and make sure it's not displayed at times when it clearly isn't appropriate. However, it still gets me unwanted attention. And given that a smile is the only expression that can be seen from up to 90 metres away, people can see it beaming before I'm even close. Often, strangers beam me a smile back and I then feel awfully guilty, that it wasn't actually aimed at them. Or, people have approached me thinking I've smiled at them and they must know me, or I'm trying to get their attention, when really, I'm just walking by, thinking I'm minding my own business. I have no idea if the awkwardness of the moment wipes the smile off my face, or enhances it further, as I politely wriggle out of the situation! 

Though I really can't complain, because I'm expressing happiness and therefore feeling and sharing happiness- this really is a good problem to have and the benefits far outweigh the occasional awkwardness! :)


Sophie Zadeh1 Comment