Why are micro expressions important when it comes to corporate communication? The short reply is that it’s 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 can’t be manipulated or faked as longer face expressions can. Micro expressions occur frequently. The duration – 1/15 to 1/25 of a second. They occur so fast we decode them unconsciously.
The seven universal micro expressions that occur throughout the world: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise and disgust.
DECODING IS SURVIVAL
Some people are very good at understanding other people’s micro expressions. In fact, the ability to understand micro expressions is what allowed us to survive. When man’s greatest enemies were no longer saber tigers or mammoths, but other people, we had to become better at reading micro expressions in our scanning for danger in our environment.
Today some people make a living of interpreting micro expressions. Like 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 absent. That be in spite of feelings being 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 are often removed. This is 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 and courageous in their visual communication. This is so they can really motivate 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. 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 COVER FEELINGS
A minor detail such as corporate clothing with shirt and tie also hides emotions. A shirt collar or a tie conceals the neck and neck muscles and their contractions are in fact something that can reveal how you 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 essential to decode micro expressions to understand nonverbal actions and communications. Emotions are the center of the human world and perspective, thus 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 to represent these in the visual material.
- Image material. Select images with emotions for your communication. Ask yourself, what feeling, does this image gives me? If the answer is “not any really”, then find another image.
- Drawing and animation. Do your corporate communication include drawings and animation? Then 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?