In an earlier blog we looked at a couple of ways in reading faces of business. Here are some more ways:

Sometimes emotions take on a life of their own and reading faces becomes even more critical, since the individual with the intense emotions may not be aware of the more subtle emotions being revealed. A very angry, or anxious, individual may miss all the subtleties of the other group members. Jaak Panksepp, in his book Affective Neuroscience, identified seven “semi-independent emotional command circuits” that, when activated, dominate the individual’s behavior in a somewhat preprogrammed, automatic fashion. He refers to these emotions as Lust, Sorrow, Play, Rage, Seeking, Caring, and Fear.

How to Gain Insight into Relationships

Panksepp found that these neural “packages” seem to operate independently of the thinking brain. It’s almost as if, once you switch on to a particular intense emotion – think chronic anxiety as Fear, ongoing depression as Sorrow, or losing yourself in the computer as Seeking – you have little control over the emotion itself unless you make a concerted effort to regain control. Being able to read such emotions on those around you gives you an incredible insight into how to communicate with them in a more meaningful way.

According to Roger Scruton, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, “Human beings are alone among the animals in revealing their individuality in their faces. The mouth that speaks, the eyes that gaze, the skin that blushes – all are signs of freedom, character and judgment, and all give concrete expression to the uniqueness of the self within.” All these indications of emotion stem from the same neighborhood of the brain.

Reading Faces and Business Relationships

A close look at the research reveals that reading faces is a highly complex process that has a lot to do with relationships and involves at least three different areas of the brain. The only broad generalization that holds is that reading faces accurately helps improve social outcomes, and that those who are better at it also appear to exhibit stronger mirror reactions to facial expressions. In a business setting, these outcomes can mean the difference between success and failure in making the sale, managing your reports, or getting the job done under deadline as a team. That’s what makes reading emotions in the faces of others in the workplace so valuable.

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