Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Contemptuous Eye Roll

So far this year I have been talking about intrinsic valuation. That is, how we can value others intrinsically by holding them in esteem, admiring them for who they are (not simply for what they do), treasuring and cherishing them as a unique, irreplaceable human beings.

What I'd like to draw your attention to in this issue is how we can recognize when we are doing just the opposite... when we are devaluing others. If you can learn to recognize a key component to this transposition of value, you will be one step closer to being able to bring truly positive value to those around you.

In my coaching practice, the key goal is to basically shorten and eventually eliminate the time between when you recognize you messed up and when you actually messed up. If you, at this Pivotal Moment, can choose a different response, YOU will be able to be on your true path to success. If you don't choose to respond differently and ignore a sabotaging thought, you will greatly hinder your success.

Let's learn about a commonly overlooked (devaluing) expression...

World Famous Face Reader

Have you ever heard of Paul Ekman? Dr. Paul Ekman is a professor of psychology who has become the world's most famous face reader. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and state and local police forces have turned to Dr. Ekman for help learning to read subtle emotional cues from the faces, voices and body language of potential assassins, terrorists and questionable visa applicants. The detailed knowledge of facial expression has earned Dr. Ekman a supporting role in the movie industry, where he has consulted with animators from Pixar and Industrial Light & Magic to give lifelike expressions to cartoon characters.

Dr. Ekman's expertise is very unique and can be very helpful when understanding when we are de-valuing others. For instance, Dr. Ekman is able to accurately predict whether a couple will divorce in the next 4 years simply by watching (not even hearing) a couple's conversation. He doesn't even need to see the whole conversation... he only needs to see 3-4 minutes to make his prediction. He is right 94% of the time!!

How does he do it?

Dr. Ekman understands that we have micro-expressions that are exposed on our faces that represent how we REALLY feel. These micro-expressions are brief (lasting just a few milliseconds) and contain emotional signals regarding our internal thoughts.

Dr. Ekman studies show that there are many facial expressions that can predict when a relationship will fail but one of the most telling is the contemptuous eye roll!

Paul Ekman discovered this contemptuous facial expression which involves pulling one lip corner to the side and creating a dimple usually accompanied by an eye roll. Just counting how many times somebody did that facial expression when conversing with their partner was an excellent predictor of whether they would get divorced or not.

Let's look at this expression and see if you can recognize this in your life...

We don't talk about contempt much in our society unless, of course, we're talking about courtrooms and lawyers. So, what is contempt? Contempt is a feeling of being better than another person, of being superior, usually morally superior but it can also be felt toward some who is weaker in intelligence, strength, and so forth. Basically, contempt is devaluing another person and overvaluing your self.

During that moment of contempt, your mind is convincing YOU that by devaluing another, you are some how more valuable. That simply is NOT true! Value is not a zero-sum game.

{Click here to read the rest of the article.}