Olivia and the Language of 1000 Faces

One thing that has amazed us as we watched Olivia grow and develop is the variety of expressions displayed on her little face. When she’s happy, her entire head radiates sunshine; when she’s upset, dark clouds roll into every wrinkle. Surprise, joy, curiosity, pain, tiredness, her face says it all.

What I find equally fascinating is watching grown-ups interact with her. Everyone’s seen the most mature, respectable people they know break out the most dorky faces and make the most bizarre noises and babble when they encounter a baby. I’m usually not the most expressive guy, but Olivia has me making stupid faces and noises with the best of them. The fun thing is getting reactions out of her and watching her face mimic your own expression.

“People’s emotions are rarely put into words; far more often they are expressed through other cues.” – Daniel Goleman

If you’ve ever been in a foreign country or have been forced to communicate to someone who speaks another language, you know that there’s a lot that can be communicated through expression and how something is said, rather than simply what is said. One of the big things I learned early on as a public speaker (and still need to often remind myself of) is that my facial expressions and tone are often communicating as much as my words are. When I would consider my posture and tell my eyebrows to get into the game, both my confidence and effectiveness went up a bunch. The secret is not to fake expression (people are good at seeing through that), but to let your emotion that’s on the inside show on your face.

Olivia is great at picking up our facial expressions as well. I’m convinced she can tell the difference between a forced smile and a genuine one. Working on non-verbal communication skills has never been so much fun…

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