Why We All Need to Know How to Read Smiles
By Sandy Schroeder
It would be nice to assume all smiles are alike, but when we look closer we often see smiles have many meanings, some good, some bad. Each smile has a goal and a specific effect on the recipient, according to Gerald Schoenewolf, PhD, in Psychocentral.
Here are Schoenewolf’s smile-detecting tips. See if you agree.
A smile of cheerfulness - This is a real smile by someone who is pleased. They may want to share their pleasure with you. Life is good and stress drops away. There are no hidden motives attached. These are the good smiles we can all benefit from.
Flirting smiles - These smiles are meant to reach out to someone to make a connection. Sometimes they can show up as a sideways glance or a direct gaze.
Superior smiles - These smiles can be quite disturbing when it is clear the other person is enjoying a moment of smugness. People who use these smiles are often indicating their sense of power. Often they trigger stress, anger, or frustration in the recipient. Reading them and dismissing them helps.
Disguise smiles - These smiles may conceal sadness or anger. Someone may be brave about sadness or truly angry about a situation. Either way a smile may be used to paper over feelings, often confusing others. If the recipient is able to really read the smile they may be able to break through to help the person.
Triumphant smile - These smiles are often flashed with smugness as someone implies you have made a mistake or simply don’t understand what is going on. People who do this a lot usually manage to alienate people and wind up isolated.
Humble smiles - People may use this smile to indicate they are just learning, or they may use the smile to trick someone into believing they are harmless. Either way these smiles are usually figured out over time, serving to isolate the person who is trying to deceive others.
Bonding smiles - People may use this smile to signal to others that they are on the same team. This becomes an artificial smile if you know little about the other person or have no other ties. People in the same organization may come to know and respect each other, which leads to a more genuine smile of friendship.
Hostile smiles – If you have ever heard the phrase, “show your teeth” this may be part of the angry smile. If someone flashes an angry smile at you it is usually wise to figure out how serious the hostility is, and what should be done about it.
You can probably think of many more smiles that serve as communication cues. Being aware of these smiles can be one more aspect of body language that we should all learn to read to improve our interactions everywhere we go.
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