Practical Applications for Nonverbal Intelligence and the Genuine Smile

Hettie the Happy Herdwick?

By David Schneer

3-Minute Read

Our last post on the Laughing Monkey brought many views and kind comments. If you liked the laughing monkey, we think you’ll like the smiling sheep.

This is my friend Sarah-Jane and her friend Hettie. Sarah-Jane is the CEO of GO-Global Outsourcing a provider of outsourced field sales. When she’s not solving client field sales issues, Sarah-Jane cares for Hettie, one of six, 9-year-old Herdwicks from the Lake District Region of England.  In this picture Sarah-Jane is obviously very happy to see Hettie. How do I know that?

Sarah-Jane is exhibiting the hallmarks of a genuine “Duchenne” smile that involves not only the symmetrical corners of the mouth but the crows feet of the eyes (see red arrows on Sarah-Jane).

The 19th-century French physician Duchenne de Boulogne showed conclusively via electrophysiological experiments that the Zygomatic muscles spanning the side of the face and attached to the corners of the mouth are also attached to the Orbicularis Oculi. The Orbicularis Oculi are the independent muscles that separately pull the eyes back, producing “crow’s feet”.  Through his experiments Duchenne proved that, unlike the “crow’s feet” muscles, we can control the Zygomatic muscles to fake happiness or to signal subordination.

The random model directly below is genuinely happy. This is the sign that you’re looking for in sales, negotiations, and in relationships.

This woman below (my friend Kasia; a highly trained psychologist) is not as happy. She’s exhibiting a “social smile”. The corners of the mouth are symmetrical, slightly, but the eyes are not engaged. When you get this type of smile, it is not genuine, and so beware.

While we can’t see Hettie’s eyes, we can see a symmetrical smile (see red arrows on Hettie’s face). But what do you think? Is Hettie truly happy to see Sarah-Jane? Let us know what you think. Yes, No, maybe, not sure? 

And while you’re up, check out Sarah-Jane’s website called SOFA (Spinone Overseas for Adoption).  This is a Charity organization that matches a special breed of Italian hunting dog called a Spinone with suitable homes. These dogs are often left abandoned in Italy, when they show no aptitude for hunting, or grow too old to hunt or breed. These dogs need help. This is Florence, a 2-year-old female Spinone rescued by SOFA and now residing with Sarah-Jane.

In our next blog we’ll ask the question about this special breed of dog—that is, do Spinone emote? Stay tuned. You won’t want to miss this.

Most Communication is Nonverbal. Are you Fluent?

Smiling Sheep Image Credit: Bob Jagendorf