Showered? Check. Fresh Clothes? Check. Facial Expression? Wait, What?!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate

Unhappy Business PersonFirst Impressions

We all recognize the importance of first impressions and their potential impact on future outcomes.  Certainly, from a business perspective, first impressions can either positively or negatively influence our 'success quotient' so therefore, we routinely pay closer attention to things such as clothing and personal hygiene.  Yet, one significant characteristic we often fail to include on our 'first impression checklist' is our facial expression.  And, regardless of what it is we're selling, buyers can intuitively pick up on our vibes – whether we realize we're displaying visual cues or not.

I Know How You Feel

While at the ASTD International Conference and Exposition in Dallas last month, I attended a unique and fascinating sales enablement training session unlike any I've experienced.  Specifically, this particular session addressed facial expressions as they relate to business development and sales effectiveness.  The presenter, Paul Ekman, an American psychologist and world-renowned facial expression expert, explained how our subconscious minds regularly ‘emit’ our personal emotions through distinct facial expressions.  According to Dr. Ekman, whose research and theories also inspired the TV crime drama Lie To Me, there are seven emotions with subsequent facial expressions universal to all humans:  These seven emotions are:

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

Consequently, depending on the circumstances, facial expressions can contribute (and not in a good way) to the overall, face-to-face, first impression equation.  Who knew?

Maybe I Should Learn To Play Poker

After all, many lucrative poker players are skilled masters of the 'uninterpretable facial expression.'  In the meantime, like most other professionals, I strive to maintain a pleasant, upbeat, and confident decorum in all business-like settings.  Little did I know that my face might have other plans.  The truth is, sometimes it's difficult to conceal or camouflage on the outside whatever might be troubling us on the inside.  So, whether we're networking with people we've never met before, or making presentations to potential clients, our facial expressions can reveal more than we know.  Or desire.  Something to keep in mind the next time we head out the door and head into our next meeting.  That said, the concept of first impressions is definitely more complex than I previously imagined.  Plus, now I have one more thing to remember.  Just what I need.

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carie shapiro

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Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

I don't really have a poker face.  This is a great topic for people in our industry.  Thanks for sharing!                              

Jun 21, 2013 01:54 AM #41
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

Actually, it reminds me of a situation we had a few weeks ago.  We went to talk to a seller about listing her home that had already been on the market for over a year with a different agent.  When we pulled up, we saw that there was a giant pine tree that covered the entire home and actually went over the house and onto the roof.  The siding was asbestos and needed removed.  Huge cost there.  The backyard was overgrown and the fence was falling down.  The seller walked up to us and said "I can tell by the expression on your face that this is not a good situation."  She was right.  Facial expressions convey our message quicker than words.  Excellent post.  

Jun 21, 2013 01:56 AM #42
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Sun Lakes Realty - Banning, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning
Great post and you are so correct. Facial expressions are so important as we see famous people and politicians on the internet and TV making faces . Try to always look happy and glad to be there.
Jun 21, 2013 02:47 AM #43
Scott Fogleman
New Home Team 804-573-9592 - Richmond, VA
New Home Team

Somany give them feelings away based upon their expression.. I also dont have a great poker face

Jun 21, 2013 02:53 AM #44
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

I used to love that show, very interesting. It's amazing not only how much better we look with a smile, but we feel better too...and the snowball of good effects goes on from there.

Jun 21, 2013 03:30 AM #45
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Debbie:  I'm just like you ... the expression on my face and the twinkle in my eye tell the whole story :)

Jennifer:  Me too!

Sharon:  Thank you!  And yes ... there's a definite disconnect when the verbal message doesn't match the facial expression and/or body language.

Victor:  Agreed!  A smile and a positive attitude can go a long way in any business.  And, thanks for sharing your story ... perfect example :)

Ralph:  Our subconcious minds are very powerful ... and more than we realize sometimes!  Thinking positive wins every time, yes?

Richard:  I think it's fascinating too!  And yes, a critical subject for sales indeed!

Lenn:  I fail to see the value too!  Oh well ... to each his or her own, right?  Plus, I agree with you ... a sincere, genuine smile and a positive attitude is something people will remember (and often tell others about) ... great advertising for sure!

Debbie:  Great point!  Smiling does make me feel better :)

Lise:  Ha!  You and Tammy have much talent for switching gears at a moments notice.  I think that's fabulous :)

Eve:  Thank you so much!  And, thank you for sharing your experience.  If someone is showing up to an interview grumpy and/or with a negative attitude, it rarely gets better from there, right?


Jun 21, 2013 03:31 AM #46
Wendy Sackl
Exquisite Home Staging & Design - Boca Raton, FL
Property Stylist

First impressions are the same for properties for sale!  So (if needed) stage, stage, stage so the buyer will have nothing but the best first impression and buy, buy, buy! 

Jun 21, 2013 03:47 AM #47
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

I do agree a poker face would do well in this business.  I do tend to tell people exactly what I think of their ridiculous remarks by my facial expressions.  Most of the time I try to remember to turn around first.

Jun 21, 2013 04:23 AM #48
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Carol:  Watching a videotape of ourselves is a great way to observe how we appear to others.  Yes, excellent lesson!

Fernando:  Me neither!

Suzanne:  I'm definitely more aware since attending this session.  At networking events, I'll stop and check my reflection to see what's showing back.  It works.

Richie:  Thank you!  And yes, my eyes reflect much of what is inside ... windows to the soul, for sure :)

Michael:  No, facial expressions don't lie and those on the outside know it.  PMA wins every time!

Tom:  I know I have to work on it all the time too, since my facial expressions are, well um, expressive. :)  And, not always in a good way either.  So, you're not alone, my friend!

Graziella:  It is so interesting how our feelings are reflected in our facial expressions ... and our voices!  I mentioned above that sometimes I will replay a voicemail and then re-record it if necessary.  Because, once in awhile my 'stressors' may show up in my voice and that is not the impression I want to leave with someone.  It happens to all of us, yes?

Adrian:  You're welcome :)  And, 'smile and dial' ... I like that a lot!

Norman:  Thanks!  And, good advice you've given to your agents and employees!

Harry:  Never a second chance to make a good first impression, right?



Jun 21, 2013 04:38 AM #49
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I have a wonderful poker face. I learned how to play poker when I was 5, and played with my dad and his friends for nickels. I often won a lot. Nobody likes to get beat by a five-year-old. It's helped carry over into sales. One of my first sales jobs was selling magazines over the phone, and I made a great living at it. It's true that they can tell if you're smiling when you're talking to them on the phone, too.

Jun 21, 2013 05:02 AM #50
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Andrew:  Yes, first impressions set the stage for what comes next!

Tammie:  In my mind, getting that feedback from others was a gift!  As difficult as is may have been for you to hear it, you experienced an eye-opening awareness which will serve you well in future situations.  Hmmm ... perhaps I may start asking for feedback.  Thanks, Tammie :)

Amanda & Jared:  Ha!  I loved your example and the statement made by the Seller!  And, you're right ... facial expressions can definitely convey our feelings faster than words!

Kristin:  Never let them see you sweat, right?

Scott:  I'm still working on mine :)

Karen:  Agreed!  Smiling makes us look better and feel better ... what could be better :)

Wendy:  Good point!  First impressions do apply to properties as well!

Chris & Dick:  Yes, sometimes people know how I feel without saying a word too!

Elizabeth:  Ha!  I loved your story!  I can just see you playing poker at 5 years old.  And, as you said, I'm sure nobody enjoyed getting beaten by a 5 year old ... that is too funny :)


Jun 21, 2013 06:17 AM #51
Gerard Gilbers
Higher Authority Markeing - Asheboro, NC
Your Marketing Master

Great information! A friend of mine used to always say "Are you happy, if so Notify your face!"

Jun 21, 2013 06:26 AM #52
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

I think first impressions are so important. Our mood and our facial expressions are an important part of the first impression.


Jun 21, 2013 06:56 AM #53
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

I forgot about that program. I liked it & actually thought you can read many peoples faces. One more thing to remember like you say! 

Welcome to our area BTW.

Jun 21, 2013 07:17 AM #54
Brad MacKenzie
Brad MacKenzie - Duxbury, MA
Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore

You have a nice smile. I hope you'll continue to use it, even when you're playing poker.

Jun 22, 2013 03:38 AM #55
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Carie:  Very good reminder for everyone!  Sometimes people can read between the lines by reading our faces and the rest of our bodies and movements.  With Interest Rates jumping all over the place over the last few days ... I'm thinking my face must have given my concerns away ...  your post points that out and will serve as a reminder moving forward.


Jun 22, 2013 07:28 AM #56
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Carie it's pretty easy to 'read' between the lines so to speak and many times pick up feelings.  It's not often that somebody pulsl the wool over my eyes. I learned from many great teachers over the years how to 'read' people,emotions and the energy in a room. It works!

Jun 22, 2013 09:55 AM #57
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Carie-I think I need one of those devices like Jack Nicholson wore as the Joker in one of the Batman movies.  You know, the oral appliance that curls the end's of your lips into a smile.

Jun 23, 2013 07:31 AM #58
John T. Dowd
United Country Dowd & Forbes Realty - Edenton, NC
Integrity - Service - Experience

Carie:  When I served in public office, it was really difficult to sit in front of a large crowd and let someone talk to you or at you and not show emotions with my facial expressions.  I still can't do it.

Jun 25, 2013 08:58 AM #59
Nancy Laswick
United Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ
Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun

Hi Carie, several years I attended a training seminar that suggested when talking with a prospective client on the phone that you stand up and look in a mirror. At first it sounded very strange but then I tried it and realized what I looked like. The look on your face not only translates in person but even over the telephone.

Jun 26, 2013 02:37 PM #60
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