Your face is my map to your life.
- Houdini, magician
Business owners need to make every encounter positively memorable to attract
attention and the positive "buzz" that creates word-of-mouth news
for their products and services. That attention begins with the face, the part
of the body that people most notice in making instinctual judgments about others.
And those judgment are now made within the first seven to twenty seconds of
Guess what? We are all literally and unwittingly two-faced. To learn more about
how you present yourself to the world, and your underlying, more private
feelings, you just have to look yourself in the face. Want to get out a mirror
now, before you read further?
You constantly present two aspects of yourself, on the two sides of your face.
Recent research on the different functions of the left and right sides of the
brain helps to explain why this is so. The two verticle halves of the face are
each affected by the nerves of the opposite side of the brain and show the world
different parts of how you feel.
In fact, the two sides of your face, like the two sides of your body -- -the
left and the right -- are usually asymmetrical and unequal in proportion. Look
at yourself in the mirror -- full-face and full length -- to see the differences.
Your expressions, in repose, are icons of your attitudes toward life.
- Kare Anderson
The left side is your more private part of your personality and
your right is the more public side of your face. The left often
looks less happy than the right. Most subjects who have been analyzed projected
their wish images upon their left side of their face and their right side related
more to their real or basic self-image and attitude towards the world.
Your faces right side often appears more pleasant, sensitive, vulnerable
and/or open in expression. The left side is less expressive than the right and
tends to reflect the hidden, severe, stern and/or depressed aspects you usually
intend to keep private from the world -- and sometimes even from yourself.
The left side is more likely to register negative emotions, while the right
side tends to reflect the more positive and optimistic, but not necessarily
phony part of your personality.
When I smile I must also show the grimace behind it.
- Live Ullman, actress, author
Since the right side of the brain has more control over the left side of the
body -- including the face -- then it stands to reason that the research on
how the brain is organized, left and right, can give us insights into how we
literally face the world and how we can better understand others. The left brain
-- reflected more in the right side of the face -- relates to logic, pragmatic
thinking, practicality and language.
The right part of the brain, in turn, relates more to intuition, imagination,
and other more creative leanings.
The basic gut feelings, including your attitude towards yourself and your life
emanate from your right brain. You express them more in the left side of your
We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are.
- Kare Anderson
The more controlled or conscious responses -- the social mask you put on for
the world -- may be processed more by the pragmatic left brain and appear more
readily on the right side of the face.
Now you may be getting lost in lefts and rights of
all this, but lets continue with some experiments you can conduct to learn
more about yourself and others for whom you have strong feelings (like or dislike)
in your life.
Your face is your shorthand to your body language.
- Kare Anderson
How You See the World
Ironically, the right brain is more actively involved in observing the world
-- which it does predominantly through your left eye. And, when you face someone,
your left eye is across from the other personss right side. Therefore,
you are more aware of their right side. But you are thus most noticing the side
of the other persons face which is more connected with the left or logical
and less revealing side. You miss facing the part of their face that is most
likely to show underlying true feelings.
Public / Private Face Exercise
Here is a rather intimate exercise to do with someone -- and it doesnt
involve disrobing or even touching. Sit facing each other. Now look at the left
and the right sides of the other persons face. Does the right side show
a more open, less tense presence? Does the left look more reserved, serious?
The left side, that is their left side, is the more private face, remember,
and the right side is their more public face. In fact, the left side is likely
to show their more basic disposition. As you face each other, discuss your observations,
one side at a time.
The face is the most memorable part of the body and the eyes are the
most memorable part of the face.
- Werner Wolff, psychiatrist and hypnotist
Drivers License Photo Show Exercise
Now try this experiment. Get out your drivers license. Look at both sides
of your face, covering one side at a time with a piece of paper. Look inward
at yourself and see if you observe different aspects of yourself.
You may also want to look back at your family album and look at the progression
of your face and your personality development overtime -- and that of others
in your family. Look at the childhood albums of close friends and in-laws for
other perspectives on them.
Photo Finish Exercise
To gain a still more revealing view of yourself, find two photographic negatives
of head and shoulders, close-up pictures of yourself. If you dont
have any handy, ask someone to take two pictures of you; offer to do the same
for them and compare notes on this exercise. Cut both negatives of yourself
vertically in half, down the center of your face. Flop over one side of each
negative. Take a glossy-coated side and a dull-coated side of the left side
of your face from the two negatives, and ask your camera shop to print it to
create a left-left photo. Take a glossy and a dull-sided half of
your face and also get a right-right print made. Thus, instead of
the normal right-left photo of your actual face, the joined half negatives become
right-right and left-left faces. You will then see exaggerated versions of both
aspects of yourself -- and will probably be able to see each more clearly.
Recommended Reading If Youd Like to Learn More:
The Psychology of Facial Expression (Studies in Emotion
and Social Interaction) by James A. Russell (Editor), Jose-Miguel Fernandez-Dols
(Editor), George Mandler, April 1997, Cambridge University Press.
The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin,
Paul Ekman (Editor) April 1998, Oxford University Press.
The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions (Series in Affective Science)
by Paul Ekman, Richard J. Davidson (Editor), 1994, Oxford University Press.
About Faces: The Evolution of the Human Face by Terry Landau, 1989,
Bantam Doubleday Dell.
To learn more about the sometimes surprizing ways that your body reveals what
you think of yourself and what you expect of the world, consider getting Kares
book and audiotape package, Make Yourself Memorable, available for $15 check
to Kare Anderson at 15 Sausalito Blvd., Sausalito, CA 94965.