One Awesome Non-Verbal Phone Tip

Real vs. Fake Smiles

For years, body language experts have know that there is a difference between a real and a fake smile.  French physician Guillaume Duchenne, did research in this area studying the various facial muscles involved with these two types of smiles; subsequently, real smiles are referred to as Duchenne Smiles in research circles.

What is the difference?

Real smiles are in the eyes – crows feet form. Basically the eyes close up as the cheeks move upwards.  The image below shows the difference with the fake smiles on the left and real on the right. (Tip: if you see a lot of bottom teeth in a smile, it is likely not real as well).

Fake vs. Real Smiles

What’s the Phone Connection?

Okay, so what does this have to do with using the phone.  After all, no one can see you when you are the phone so how would they know if you are smiling or not?

Well, research demonstrates we can tell if someone is or isn’t smiling and they can even tell the difference between a real and fake smile.

Dr. Amy Drahota, Research Fellow, School of Health Sciences and Social Work, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom, conducted a study where her team audio and video recorded interviews where subjects were instructed to always respond with the same answer “I do in the summer” to every question they were asked.

For example the first question might be, “Do you ever barbecue?” and they would respond “I do in the summer.”

But each question would get more and more bizarre until the 10th question would be something like “Do you go to Mars?” and again they would have to respond “I do in the summer.”

As you can imagine this elicited varying degrees of smiles while answering depending on the question and the subject.

The research team then evaluated the videos and by looking at the subject’s face they coded them as having either no smile, a fake smile, or a real smile as they answered.

Finally, a completely different set of people listen to the recordings and indicated whether or not they thought the speaker was smiling.  Remember, all they heard was the same phrase over and over again “I do in the summer”.  That was it.

The result?

Those listening correctly identified when the person interviewing demonstrated a real smile.  But the fake smiles were assessed the same as no smile.

You can literally hear a smile.

Remember that the next time you are on the phone your smile will come through!

[for those who want to hear a brief interview with Dr. Amy Drahota on this study, click here!]

Bonus Tip:

If you are wondering how to create a real smile if you aren’t in the mood? Well, faking a smile can eventually transform into a real one.  This is do to something called the facial feedback hypothesis.  Research shows if you put a pencil horizontally between your teeth this mimics the same muscle movements as those created during a real smile, after a few minutes you will actually feel happier!


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