Now when you look at the idea of reading somebody’s face there has been many fallacies written on the topic. I am not saying that I have the monopoly on how to do this, however what I do have is over a decade of reading faces everyday in both entertainment and the more official capacity.

You do yourself an injustice. The features are given to man as the means by which he shall express his emotions, and yours are faithful servants. – Sherlock”

“Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from my features? – Watson”

“Your features and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot yourself recall how your reverie commenced? – Sherlock”

“No, I cannot. – Watson”

Taken from the Adventure of the Cardboard Box.

Now when it comes to reading faces, it pays to know that there are 7 basic emotions that everyone displays on their face in the same way regardless of background or ethnicity. These are:

  • Happiness
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Contempt
  • Disgust

A brief look into the work of Dr Paul Ekman will provide you with the details of their displays. So what we get here is a baseline in the awareness of the emotional state of virtually everyone we come across. Once we have the displays of their sincerity then we can become aware of what would make a falsehood, a masked smile or building anger.

This is where we get the art of reading micro expressions from. These are the moments between displays where the truth of their current thoughts can be found. In someone who tells you that they are happy when their eyebrows are raised and pulled together for example, the trained observer would know that this is not the current state of affairs. Someone who states they are at ease with the current line of questioning and yet is also masking fear in their eyes with a false smile display will be showing the trained observer their true feelings. 

Holmes was once quoted as saying that there is nothing so deceptive as an obvious fact whereas for our studies here, there is noting so obvious as a deceptive fact. Once we understand the basics of the display patterns we can then get a deeper understanding of the colour and intonation between them, which is where the deception would inherently lie. 

Time of displays is the biggest factor in reading a genuinely felt expression. An authentically felt emotion would take a degree of time to subside. If you ever felt genuine anger or happiness, have you ever been able to just stop and then concentrate on something else? I would argue that the answer would be no. With that in mind when you see a genuine smile vanish just as quickly as it arrived this could indicate that it is not a truly felt state. Displays that change rapidly, would indicate that the second is the genuine state, in that the first could be easily changed. 

Now, for reading the intent in order to follow a thought process, one need only follow the actions of the body language in line with the genuine displays that are written on the face. The further details you study about emotional displays, the further your awareness grows. Let’s take one of the previous examples of the person masking their fear over a line of questioning.

You see the false comfort and follow their eyesight to the one way mirror and notice the additional pupillary restriction. Additional concerns over who might be watching? Why? When you start to ask about people in a specific department you see the tension in the lower lids subside and hands come back on to the table. This happens each time the topic is bought up. Are you on the wrong lines with the department you have information on?

Now this will take some practice to be able to compute together at the same time and maintain your present state in the scenario that you are in. This is when your people reading practices have become reflexive. In addition you will get many more tips and hints in developing this way of life as part of this musings series.

Above all let us not forget that these are unconscious responses to stimuli. These are responses that we can’t control yet do our best to hide on occasion. In this, when you learn to see these differences in the facial reading tells, and get to the truth of the matter much more accurately, it will be before the person you are reading is aware of. As such you will always get to make an informed decision in how you change your line of questioning or actions to suit your current plan. Thus making sure that you always stay on point and focused on the case at hand, given the contextual shifts that can occur.

Don’t forget to check out my 1 on 1 coaching sessions pages to book in your slot for a more in-depth tutorial in how to use the Sherlockian approach to aid you in your day to day lives. Click here

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So here we understand that the eyes can be so much more than the windows to the soul.

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