We have a pretty good ability to tell when somebody is happy or really angry. But often we miss things completely and don’t realize somebody is upset until she is bawling right in front of us. We also often get facial expressions mixed up and might believe somebody is afraid when he’s really just surprised, or that somebody is angry when he’s really just concentrating on a problem. Recent reports have discovered a crisis around mental health first aid today.
It doesn’t help that a change in somebody’s face can mean one thing if it is a conscious illustration of what is being said, and something else entirely if it is unconscious. If I am telling you something and you raise your eyebrows, it could mean that you want to show me that you are doubtful or questioning something I am saying. But it could also be an expression of genuine surprise. If you are a manager then employee wellbeing is a subject that you will be aware of.
A crooked smile could be used to show that I understood you were making a joke, but it could also be an unconscious expression of contempt. Things get really messy when we express several things at once with our faces. Often, we display two emotions at once. If we’re surprised and then get happy when we realize what the surprise is all about, we will express surprise followed by joy. Everyone should feel safe and supported to talk about hr app with their line manager.
In between the two, there is a stage at which we exhibit both the previous and the newer emotions. We will look surprised and happy at the same time. Or, we may experience a genuine mixed emotion, like the great blend of fear and joy we get from a good roller-coaster ride. We also often try to hide our true feelings, and display something else instead, like when we’re sad but try to look happy. Whether you work with 10 people, 10000 people or just yourself, paying attention to mental health in the workplace has never been more important.
In cases like this, the hidden emotion will almost always seep through, which means we are unconsciously displaying both the emotion we’re trying to conceal and the one we’re pretending to have instead. Sometimes, we will use our facial expressions as comments, not simply to what we’re saying, but even to our other facial expressions! An example of this would be when we look sad, but squeeze a smile out to show we’ll be OK. Maybe it’s not so strange that we get things mixed up after all.