[tweetmeme]Facial expressions are crucial to social – and business – interactions. A story in The New Times today discussed research by a graduate student who is doing a study on her own condition called Moebius syndrome that causes facial paralysis. Unlike people without the syndrome, Moebius sufferers must find other cues like gestures and tone of voice to communicate emotions that most of us take for granted.
How important are facial expressions to success in business? Very important. As the article points out, we tend to mimic the gestures and expressions of conversation partners that create a kind of shared good will. Ask most people who they want to do business with, and they will generally say someone they are comfortable with. We’ve all had the experience of talking to someone who gives us absolutely no facial or verbal cues. Maybe it was a potential client. Nothing could be more uncomfortable because we may interpret this lack of cues as rejection — and possibly it is.
So what’s the lesson here? In a selling situation, try to use all three methods of communication: words, pictures and actions. The words are important but actions like smiling, laughing, frowning, and arched eyebrows communicate as much or more than words. They create a visceral connection to your conversation partner. You may never get to the next step in a personal or business relationship without them.