Why are micro expressions important when it comes to corporate communication? The short reply: It is important in ALL situations where people communicate with people.
MICRO EXPRESSIONS ARE ALL ABOUT EMOTIONS
Micro expressions are short and involuntary facial expressions that we humans show in split seconds. They express our feelings. Micro expressions cannot be manipulated or faked as normal and longer face expressions can. Micro expressions occur frequently. The duration – 1/15 to 1/25 of a second. They occur so fast we can only fathom and decode them unconsciously.
There are seven universal micro expressions that recur throughout the world and among all nations: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise and disgust.
DECODING MICRO EXPRESSIONS IS PURE SURVIVAL
Some people are very good at capturing and understanding other people’s micro expressions. In fact, the ability to understand micro expressions is what allowed us to survive evolutionarily. Because when man’s greatest enemies were no longer saber tigers, musk oxen or mammoths, but other people – we had become better at reading micro expressions in our scanning for danger in our environment.
Today some people make a living of interpreting and reproducing micro expressions – such as animators, photographers, illustrators, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, health professionals, educators, police assistants – just to name some.
BUSINESSES DOESN’T SHOW EMOTIONS
How often do you see the face expressions shown below in corporate communication? Look at each picture. I guarantee you can quickly decipher what each expression communicates.
Illustration of unknown source (Flynn Rider).
Most business communication aims to motivate and create positive change in employees. But in a lot of corporate communication emotions are entirely absent, and that in spite of feelings being precisely what motivates and creates positive change.
So why shouldn’t we use emotions in corporate communication? Why are businesses so afraid of showing emotions in their communication?
WE MUST NOT OFFEND ANYONE
In corporate communication emotions and expressions are often removed in order to ensure that the communication cannot be misunderstood or perceived as offensive. Most businesses are scared stiff by for example showing too much joy.
But in the process of removing all emotions the communication actually looses its bite and presence and becomes more difficult to understand.
WITHOUT EMOTIONS IT BECOMES INDIFFERENT
Companies usually want to be modern, creative and courageous in their visual communication, so they can really motivate and encourage employees to run in the right direction. But when it comes down to it, they lack courage to use those universal and “big” feelings. This means that communication becomes indifferent, and it has no impact on the target group at all.
Too often intranet articles are accompanied by bland images of people with no expression. Or corporate videos show people being interviewed with completely dead body languages – or worse – stiff body language (signaling fear). And this is where business communication fails.
COLLARS AND TIES ALSO COVER FEELINGS
A minor detail such as corporate clothing with shirt and tie also hides emotions. Because a shirt collar or a tie conceals the neck. Neck muscles and their contractions are in fact something that can reveal how you really feel. For example the neck muscle quickly reveal if you are tense or relaxed, stressed, angry or happy.
THE WORLD IS ABOUT EMOTIONS
It is absolutely essential to be able to decode micro expressions to understand nonverbal actions and communications – and to be able to read and understand other people. And because emotions are the center of the human world and perspective, they should also be part of the communication that the company brings to their employees.
3 TIPS TO INCLUDE MICRO EXPRESSIONS
- Message. Consider which feelings the message in your communication invites to. Surprise. Motivation. Joy. Make sure these are represented in the visual material.
- Image material. Select images for your communication that creates emotion. Ask yourself, what feeling, does this image gives me? If the answer is “not any really”, then find another image.
- Drawing and animation. When your corporate communication includes drawings and animation, you can allow yourself to go all in on micro expressions. Ask yourself: What emotions are represented in my video or my visual material in addition to the universal feelings? If none then how can I include some?
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