The question people ask most at Christmas is “Did they really like what I got them?” So this year I’m asking you “Will you recognize the signs of insincerity this Christmas?”
I’ve got some great news for you. Yes, you will. Because I’m gonna show you how.
First things first. Surprise on lasts on the human face about 1 1/2 seconds. No more. Any more than that, and they’re faking. If you give her a gift and her eyebrows go waaaay up and she’s smiling from ear to ear, that’s a good sign. Take a look at the outsides of her eyes…
If the outsides aren’t wrinkled in the area of that red circle, then the smile isn’t real. But don’t let that bum you out. If the person smiling like this wasn’t happy with the gift, they are trying their best to make sure they don’t hurt your feelings. That’s a good sign.
Keep in mind also, there may have been what’s called a “Duchenne Smile” briefly, but you missed it. (Duchenne was a scientist in the late 1800’s. He studied facial expressions and discovered that a real smile shows up with the outsides of the eyes wrinkling. It’s a different wrinkle than a squint produces. I talk about it here in my TEDx Talk.)
Now let’s talk about the present for your Mom. She unwraps it and opens the box. She looks at you, her head tilts to the side just a bit and her bottom lip pushes up a bit on her upper lip as she gives you a closed mouth smile. She shakes her head left and right just a bit as she moves her head toward you. “I love it. Thank you.”
There’s not a whole lot of excitement going on there. But the true sincerity you can feel. Her “Thank you” is straight from the heart. The Duchenne wrinkles are present at the sides of her eyes, she doesn’t blink much at all, as she holds her gaze at you.
There are those who may argue with me and say “Her head shook the left and right as she said ‘I love it’ so that means she doesn’t really love it.” This is where we need to look at the context of the situation. Context is of the utmost importance when decoding body language.
She’s being given a gift, by her child. There was no question asked. There’s no yes or no involved. (Check out Lance Armstrong shaking his head no as he says “yes”, it’s creepy.) At the same time she shakes her head, she’s moving toward you.
Watch mothers with little babies. They will do the very same head move when they speak to the baby as it looks them in the eye and smiles. You’ll probably do it as well when you meet a baby and it tries to talk to you. You’ll do it when you get a new puppy too.
Does the volume of the giftee’s voice matter? You bet it does. If you give a guy a gift, and he opens it, looks at it and says “Ohhh… it’s… It’s PERFECT! I can’t believe you got this for me! Wow. Thank you. I really like it. I do. Thank you. I really needed one of these.”
At first he’ll be a bit loud with the “Ohhh…” Because for real, he doesn’t know WHAT to say, but his brain realizes he needs to be cool about it. That’s why the “PERECT” is so loud. It’s supposed to erase the fake “Ohhh…” that was too long and weak sounding. When he says “I can’t believe you got this for me!” He means that.
Keep an eye on his eyebrows. They’re not gonna stay up as long as your Mom’s did. You may also notice, the volume of his voice going down as he reaches the end of his group of short statements he’s using to help qualify “PERFECT!”.
That also suggests he may be insincere with his praise. You’ll find that happens quite often when someone is being deceitful as they answer your questions.
Here’s something very important. And this one is more for the workplace than for home. When you give someone a gift, make sure you watch their mouth, nose, and eyebrows. If you see asymmetry in their expression, that suggests the person does not like you. Not even a little bit.
Take a look at the girl on the far left in the first photo of this post. That’s what I’m talking about. Contempt. Hers is exaggerated, but that’s almost the classic expression of contempt.
I say “almost” because there is no asymmetry in her eyebrows. If there were, look out. Contempt is the only true emotion the face shows that is not symmetric. Everything else works together.
So there you have it. The 3 “Biggies” that will help you recognize the signs of insincerity at Christmas this year. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.