Emotion Spotting: Expressions and Microexpressions

Are you missing an important channel of communication?

Most of us listen to spoken words as we interact with others, but not many people pay conscious attention to what remains unspoken. Words can, and do, convey lots of complex thoughts, theories and feelings, but they are usually filtered and adapted to create a certain impression, giving you, the listener, the 'intended' message. There are lots of reasons for this– to be more amicable, to maintain relationships, to deceive, to conceal emotions, to make others feel better– to name a few. So it's not all bad. Imagine if everybody spoke their thoughts– Ouch! In many situations, however, you could benefit from knowing more and having a good understanding of how the person you interact with really feels, whether it's potential deception in a negotiation or marriage, or when you just want a family member to be more open with you.

Read More
What are Universal Expressions?

Scientists have found that the muscles in our face can produce 30 independent movements– 12 in the upper face, and 18 in the lower face. Working together in various combinations, these muscle movements are capable of creating thousands of expressions. However, most scientists agree that out of all of these expressions, only seven are 'universal'– innate within all of us, regardless of culture. They are...

Read More
Sharing some good news: I'm working on a TED-Ed animation!

Yippee, I got the go ahead to share my good news with you! I've been working on a script for a TED-Ed animation and it's finally coming to fruition. The TED-Ed team have brought in the director, animator and narrator/actor to work their magic and bring it to life. This is a huge thrill for me, since I've been a TED obsessive for years. My TED-Ed lesson animation is about emotional expression– universal expressions, so over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some supporting information on the subject on my blog. 

If you aren't already familiar with TED-Ed animations, here's one by Peter Mende-Siedlecki, I think you may find it interesting- it's about first impressions, which are incredibly important for setting us up for successful interactions. It's less than 5 minutes long. 

Read More
Loss of a Loved One: Observed Nonverbal Behaviours and Emotion

I've been quiet on my blog for a while now because I lost my beautiful mother in May. I've wanted to share with you some observations during my experience of loss– of emotion and nonverbal expression– I'm finally ready to write about it. I'm not sharing my experience of loss as such, but what I want to do here is mention some behaviours that felt noteworthy, illustrating some of the nonverbal cues that I usually write about. 

It was sudden and unexpected, so much so, that I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. Living on the other side of the world, I hadn't seen my mum for over two years. I was 'greeted' at the airport by my sister, who reluctantly stepped forth from behind her partner, his body temporarily and unknowingly shielding her from what she had to do. They were waiting right at the very back of the crowd, distancing themselves from the reality of what she was about to disclose.

Read More
Lloyd Rayney: Truth or Lies? Are his Words and Behaviours Aligned?

Last week a client asked me if I'd ever blogged about Lloyd Rayney, a prominent Perth Barrister, who in 2010 was charged with the murder of his wife (2007). He was found 'not guilty' in 2012. I'm not too familiar with the case as I didn't pay much attention to it at the time; back then I lived in the UK and later, on the other side of Australia, in Sydney. From what little I had heard, since moving to Perth a year ago, I assumed Lloyd Rayney was guilty. This was largely based on public consensus in Perth, though I don't directly recall any conversations about the case, so most likely I've been swayed by the media.

Read More
Why you felt Professor Kelly's discomfort, as his children interrupted his BBC interview.

I'm sure many of you saw South Korea expert Professor Robert Kelly's reaction to the unexpected interruption by his children, live on air, as he was interviewed by the BBC. I'm also sure that you sensed the discomfort he experienced as it happened. But do you know why? Do you know exactly what you saw in Professor Kelly's nonverbal cues that caused you to sense his discomfort?

Read More
What happens to our body when we feel an emotion?

When we experience emotions we feel physical sensations within our body. Have you ever stopped in the moment of an emotion, to evaluate what you are feeling? And where that feeling is? In an emotion, our brain triggers physiological changes within our body. These changes alter our autonomic processes (processes we don't consciously control), such as heart rate, breathing, sweating and blink rate. In turn these physiological changes create physical feelings, or sensations, within our body. We associate these physical feelings with the emotion. Researchers at Aalto University have created visual bodily maps of emotions, based on self reported bodily sensations, experienced when an emotion was triggered. The results were gathered from 701 participants from around the world. 

Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
What the Media Missed in the Karen Ristevski Case; The Single Nonverbal Cue that Points Towards the Truth

I check the news every morning to see if there's anything interesting to write about. I'm usually looking for nonverbal cues that have specific meaning, usually those that contradict the spoken word and point towards deception. These cues are the most reliable and give us insight into the reality of the situation; the truth. My mission is to educate you. To give you so many examples of these cues that you start to notice them in the people around you. So that you are better able to understand the true feelings of others, which allows you to formulate a more appropriate response, ultimately improving your interactions and relationships.

One of the news topics I'm always on the lookout for, is the case of Karen Ristevski, who disappeared from her home in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year. Today's news brought this case to the headlines once again, after little mention of it for several months. The reason I've been so interested in this case, is down to a single nonverbal cue, displayed by Borce Ristevski, Karen's husband, back in July. Ever since then, I've been waiting to hear the outcome of this case, because to me, it's glaringly obvious that Borce is hiding the truth. And it's all down to one single nonverbal cue.

Read More
Nonverbal Communication; the Heart of Emotional Intelligence

Nonverbal communication plays a large part in emotional intelligence. The most obvious link is in understanding the true feelings of others, based on their nonverbal communication cues; a topic I write about a lot. If you can read these cues, you have the ability to understand their emotions and can therefore adapt and respond appropriately. The latter part of the equation (your response) being the most significant.

Less obvious is that understanding, and awareness, of nonverbal cues can also help you to understand yourself! When I notice myself doing certain cues (many are involuntary), I pause and re-evaluate my own emotions, or what I just said. For example if I notice myself doing a one-sided shoulder shrug, or nod, as I say, "I don't care what they think", I can then re-evaluate my thoughts and conclude that I'm kidding myself. Of course I care, why wouldn't I? 

Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
101 Business Radio Interview: Hidden Clues in Nonverbal Communication

I'm back! I've taken some time off recently, to hang out with visiting family. It's been a lot of fun! I've been living in Perth, Australia for almost nine months, and for most of that time I've been either working on the business, or renovating our new home. And although I love my work, and like renovating (I'm a bit of a DIY queen!), there's been little time for play. I've finally caught up with getting out and about, sight seeing in this beautiful part of the world that I now call home.

If you were with me now you'd see genuine happiness, one of the seven universal expressions. I'm smiling with my mouth, but what makes it genuine happiness, or a 'Duchenne smile', is that I'm also smiling with my eyes. My upper cheek muscles are activated and you can see crow's feet (wrinkles) at the corner of my eyes. Don't ever be embarrassed about your crow's feet, they signal to people your happiness, and that in itself is beautiful!

Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
The Role of your Body in Eliciting the Truth

Part two, The Role of your Body in Eliciting Truth, of my article Deception Detection Uncovered; Truth Seeking Through Interrogation, is out now in Australian Security Magazine.

Part one, Identifying Nonverbal Cues, Clues to Dig Deeperlooked at several nonverbal cues that, when seen, alert us to a potential issue; an area in which we should dig deeper in our quest to discover the truth or true feelings. Part two, The Role of your Body in Eliciting Truthexplores the other side of the equation; how you can use your own body language, gesture and expression to facilitate truth seeking. 

Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
Trump's One-Sided Apology

This weekend Trump apologised for his comments from the recently uncovered 2005 video, in which he brags to Billy Bush about his advances on, and treatment of, women:

"You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women] I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

During his apology, we see a one-sided shoulder shrug. This is a nonverbal cue, usually associated with lying, due to it's meaning. It signals that the speaker has no confidence in the words they speak. A full shoulder shrug (both shoulders) signals the opposite; confidence in spoken words.

Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
Why is nonverbal behaviour so important in understanding what is really being communicated?

Nonverbal communication forms the majority of our communication, with researchers suggesting that the nonverbal component of our communication is 60%, at a bare minimum. Some studies have shown it can be as high as 93% in some contexts. I would argue that it can be as high as 100%, as there are plenty of times when we aren't speaking, but still communicating. Think of these situations:

  • Lovemaking. I need say no more.
  • Driving: Lights and sounds can indicate and warn, but even without those, we know when a car is coming forward, going backwards, turning- quickly or slowly, because we can see (and hear) the movement of the car and the intentions of the driver. Think of that in terms of the movement of individuals...
  • Navigating their way through a crowded street. If someone is walking straight towards you, do you step to the side signalling their right of path. Or do you stay put and signal they need to accomodate you? Or do you both do a dance on the spot (and giggle), because you both accommodate each other?
  • Flirtatious signals, back and forth, between two strangers across a bar.
  • The shopper that continues to chat on her phone, as she hands her card to the cashier, completing the process without words (to the cashier).
  • That 'look', from a wife/husband, mother/father, child. 
Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
Nalder denies involvement in poll: Nonverbal analysis questions the truth behind his words

Over the past few days a damaging opinion poll, privately funded by Perth businessmen, came to light, showing political leadership could be in trouble. Western Australia's Premier Colin Barnett described the poll as an act of disloyalty. Yesterday, Transport Minister Dean Nalder was interviewed regarding his involvement in commissioning the poll, an accusation he denied. In this post I'm going to highlight some of the nonverbal cues that Nalder signals throughout his interview.

Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
Who lied to you today? Did you notice?

I've always been a goody two-shoes and very honest. Actually, that was a lie! In most cases I've been a goody two-shoes and very honest. So much so that there have been times when honesty has got me into trouble. Another lie! I didn't get into trouble as such, but I certainly would have been better off had I been less honest. Unfortunate isn't it? If I'd have done what everyone else did (a lie of omission), I could have benefited from the situation, like they did, by... Oops, I'd better stop telling the truth to protect the company in question. I'm not telling a deliberate lie, but I am omitting the truth. Only one paragraph into the post and I've already told a few lies, because that's what we do. We lie. 

If you're reading this thinking you don't lie, then think again. While studying Deception Detection, I learned that 91% of people lie regularly at home and work, and research suggests that, on average, people tell 2 - 3 lies in a 10 minute conversation. That means we're lied to as many as 200 times a day!

Read More
Sophie ZadehComment
A taste of my own medicine; I get to analyse myself!

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.

Read More
Sophie Zadeh Comment