Discussion: View Thread

  • 1.  Mismatched Facial Expressions - Have You Encountered and How Did You React?

    Posted 02-08-2022 09:34 AM

    Have you ever encountered the situation when the facial response you received from another person was completely mismatched to the question or situation and how did you react? This has happened to me and it is very off putting. It can really put you on your back foot in terms of how to respond. This first happened to me years ago when I went to talk to one of our technical experts at the time. The facial response I received was cold and distant. There are multiple possibilities here but it could have been a situation of mismatched facial response.  I recently finished Malcolm Gladwell's book Talking to Strangers where he discussed mismatched behaviors including facial response. Gladwell has his fans and detractors but I find his books insightful and do not always take his points at face value. A quick read on mismatched facial expressions that I found on the web after finishing Gladwell's book can be found here.

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 2.  RE: Mismatched Facial Expressions - Have You Encountered and How Did You React?

    Posted 02-12-2022 12:00 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 02-12-2022 11:59 AM

    Hi Mitchell! very good topic, great point on this, facial as a simple yet a form of communication, "A single peace of our complex behaviors"

    "We can't be happy all the time - so we can't be sad all the time. So the old piano teacher said to me: you cannot please Greeks and Trojans!"

    So this parabola graph says much about our lives "that can strongly be demonstrated in passive - aggressive actions sometimes," unnecessary but necessary to understand. 

    When I was playing soccer against an opposing team in the past, someone has used their motives in trying to defend their views just in order to win, but he was wrong. 

    A lot of unpleased reactions including verbally or facial simultaneously will happen if you respond against that. 

    I think the essential role in these situations, for us humans, is to recognize How we can perceive these fragments of mismatched responses, and what we can  do for that, 

    Will we give ourselves and other people explanations for that? Maybe try to understanding their parabola cycles or reasons. 

    So we can identity the problems the curved lines the person are getting through, this means we know how to care, and behavior for the best of situation! 

    Another problem is that the human mind is complex, we sometimes have several archetypes, and use it unconsciousness sometimes in different situations as required by society.  

    Look in the way we must appear in pictures to society or which is the way would like to appear to yourself? 

    An environment set of rules that can impact expressions but can give you an opportunity to express who truly you are is the best one. 

    I think sometimes the world demands to much of us, that we have to adapt in those ways, that those facial expressions maybe be sometimes mind emitting public symbols to what our body will result  suffer in a situation, in other worlds, can be anticipating suffer or we are ready for the new overload experiences (try to endure).

    "these represent ourselves in a really true way sometimes, but no one can't know it if not able to know what is happening sometimes."


    Andre Newinski S.E., A.M.ASCE
    Engenheiro Estrutural
    Santo Angelo

  • 3.  RE: Mismatched Facial Expressions - Have You Encountered and How Did You React?

    Posted 02-13-2022 11:27 PM
    I have been misjudged on occasion because of totally off-base inferences based on my facial expressions and it's almost impossible to correct such assumptions. I'll just say that I hope people will keep in mind their fallibility in analyzing body gestures.

    Tsee Lee, A.M.ASCE
    City of New York
    Long Island City, NY

  • 4.  RE: Mismatched Facial Expressions - Have You Encountered and How Did You React?

    Posted 02-14-2022 12:58 PM
    I can distinctly remember a time where I was searching for the right words to let my boss know where I was on a task, and judging by his face (which I could be wrong about too, of course) I got the impression that he thought I was about to tell him I was resigning from the job. It has made me work harder on maintaining a neutral expression throughout conversations. That being said, I tend to smile often and so if I am not conveying clear positivity in a discussion, my true feelings are apparently still pretty visible by anyone who knows me even reasonably well.

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 5.  RE: Mismatched Facial Expressions - Have You Encountered and How Did You React?

    Posted 02-14-2022 11:58 PM
    In my career, I have often worked on problems that had stakeholders from widely different disciplines and cultural backgrounds. Facial expressions not matching what I take to be the meaning of the accompanying words is, in my experience, most often a sign of miscommunication. Rather than being put off, I use this cue to back up and revisit the meaning of the whole conversation to find the disconnect.

    Often it is that the same word or phrase has very different meanings to the various people involved. I once worked with an agency lawyer, who kept saying things that made no sense to me, even though it was clear from the logic of the conversation that we were '"on the same page." Eventually we figured out that we were using the same words to mean very different things. We took a break from our work to make a list of such words and agree to the meaning they would have when we were talking to each other. This also let us understand what was being communicated during side conversations each of us had with members of our respective professions.

    In dealing with multiple stakeholders trying to solve complex problems, my interdisciplinary background and my prior experience often allowed me to be a translator between groups until they could develop a suitable common language. At the initial meetings of these stakeholder groups there was quite of bit of facial expression not matching expectations.

    Sometimes, particularly when dealing with different cultures, and when translation is involved, there is a mismatch in the underlying social context. A simple example: In Chinese culture, it is, or at lest it used to be, extremely impolite to say no. Instead, the words "it would be difficult" were used by my colleagues to convey "no." If I made a request again, despite the fact that the initial response was "it would be difficult," I could get a look that seemed to say "why are you so foolish as to ask again?" even though, in my culture, the second request would be taken quite differently. This is a very simple example. It can get a lot more complex, and learning about cultural differences can help a lot. In my case I found a book that laid out many of the social and business difficulties that could occur, and how to deal with them.

    My advice is, when facials don't match your expectations, do not be put off. Rather, pause, say something like "I'm not sure i understand you properly.  Did you say," and repeat what you think you heard in different words. You may find that you have to back up the conversation quite a bit to get to the core of the misunderstanding.

    Dan Sheer LM. ASCE
    Retired former President HydroLogics Inc.
    Columbia Maryland

  • 6.  RE: Mismatched Facial Expressions - Have You Encountered and How Did You React?

    Posted 02-16-2022 06:15 PM
    I have to laugh because of my experiences as someone that folks identify as having an "overbite" but is technically called "overjet or overjetting" by orthodontist. I am a relatively nice person, but the overjet can produce what appears to be a grin or smile ALL the time no matter the situation. It got me kicked out a college music appreciation class on the 1st day of class (1st 20 minutes); professor asked me what was so funny and then told me to leave. Needless to say, I dropped that class the same day, I figured that was a rough way to start a class. It got me kicked out of a courtroom (college entertainment = night court) because the officer heard kids laughing behind me and thought it was me. May have been what led to one manager's frustration during an urgent matter when I had been at the office from 7 am to 9 am the next day. (Yes, I had provided a warning about the issue weeks prior, but was told it was not in the scope of work.)

    As someone mentioned, facial expressions and body language are additional forms of communication and should not be discounted. However, from a professional perspective, I tend not to focus too much as long as they are performing as intended or the desired product is received. Their expressions may limit our interaction. As a professional, I am there in a business capacity and so I will not view somethings as personal. There are too many variables that may impact someone's day. Tough to analyze the mindset of individuals in these extremely short-term relationships.

    From a personal perspective, if it involves my personal safety or food service, I tend to pay close attention! Need to know that the guy on the other end of a life line is enjoying life.

    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA