Manj Weerasekera, The Fresh Start Guy, is an expert in personal communication and a Life Skills Mentor to high net worth individuals (including some honoured by her Majesty the Queen). However, today he’s going to tell you how you’ve been killing your chances of a happy relationship and how to fix it…
Psychic powers. That would handy. Certainly make Black Friday easier: these are not the UGG Classic Tall Boots you’re looking for. And wouldn’t it be great to know what’s going on with new people in your life without having to ask? Oh hold on, we can do that already. A little bit.
As any Patrick Jane fan will tell you, microexpressions are small, nearly invisible expressions that flash over our faces involuntarily, often revealing exactly what’s going on in our heads without our permission.
Yeah, yeah, you say, that’s fine if you’re a twinkly-eyed, tea-supping, waist-coat clad, bed-head sporting mentalist, or Derren Brown, but regular folks can’t work that kind of magic.
Really? Ever interviewed somebody for a job? Then you’ve witnessed microexpressions yourself: tiny muscle contractions around the eyes and lips will betray nervousness, regardless of how big a smile your interviewee is flashing.
But it’s not magic; it’s just science. Our faces show what’s on our minds.
Try as we might, there’s just no way to hide microexpressions. They occur at incredible speeds: between 1/25th and 1/15th of a second. There’s simply no way we can maintain control of our expressions entirely, and trying to conceal them often makes it worse — poker face only works for Lady Gaga.
And high-stress situations (like a first date) can actually trigger microexpressions.
Think of it this way: Even if you’ve convinced yourself to look happy and attentive during a date, just one distraction can throw you off guard and reveal emotions you never intended to share; let’s face it (accidental pun — honest), five out of six of the ‘universal’ emotions — anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise — are less than ideal first impressions.
So what can you do about it? How can you avoid letting microexpressions sabotage a first date?
The answer is simple: Don’t think about changing your expressions, change your thoughts.
Our brains and facial expressions are intimately connected. In our social world, ‘reading’ facial expressions is one area that allows us, at a basic level, to trust each other. Our faces help us express emotions when words fail. So if you want to come across as your best self with a potential future significant other, try these suggestions:
Set a positive outcome
Decide beforehand how you would like to be perceived and what impression you wish to make.
Press the pause button on your worries
They will still be there after your date. If you can completely let go of your burdens for just a few hours, it will show, and you will make a far better impression.
Watch your body language
Unlike microexpressions, you can control how you position your body relative to your date. For example, uncross your arms and turn towards them to look open and attentive.
This is a very simple one. Make eye contact with a gentle gaze and remember to smile!
Stay in the present moment
When you’re with a potential new life partner, keep bringing your full attention back to the ‘here and now’. Why be having a relationship with thoughts from your past, when you could be focusing on starting a relationship with someone who could be part of a new and happy future?
By changing what’s going on in your head, you can change what people see going on in your face, so the first thing a new date sees won’t be your nervousness, or your work stress, or your upset from a previous relationship. Instead they will see you at your best; relaxed, confident and in control.