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Featured Understanding/Being aware of facial expressions?

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by RiverSong, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. RiverSong

    RiverSong Spoilers

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    I've noticed in the last couple of years, maybe as I'm getting a little older?, that people often look at me strangely. Whenever I'm talking to someone or even if I'm not directly in a conversation, I can just be standing off to the side of folks, and I'll still get strange looks.

    For the longest time, when I was a kid or in high school, it never occurred to me that this was odd. I just figured people looked at other people strangely, maybe out of habit. It was what it was. But then when I got to college and moved in with two roommates, strangers much younger than me, I started to feel out of place with the odd looks I kept getting from my roommates.

    Especially one roommate in particular who, whenever she saw me, would give me this look where she kind of scrunched up her face in a tight-lipped smile. It bothered me whenever she did it but I couldn't put my finger on why. Months went by and I had no idea what that look meant. I knew she rarely ever talked to me and avoided me whenever she could. I just figured she didn't like. Oh, well. I went about my business.

    Then one day while watching the TV show The Office I saw an actor make the same face my roommate had been giving me. And this time the face was given in context so I had a clear understanding of what that facial expression meant... That moment was like getting hit with a ton of bricks. All that time and I had no clue she'd been giving me a let's just call it a variation on the Jim-from-The-Office-look. Something like this:

    [​IMG]

    She gave more of a strained smile but the overall expression is pretty close to this image. Now, you would think anyone would see this and know what it meant. Not me. I didn't have any context or explanation beforehand so I didn't know what the heck it meant. :mad:

    I'd usually just give my roommate a "Hi" and she'd give me that look, which I finally realized meant that she felt awkward being around me because she thought I was annoying and weird. Just like how on The Office, Jim would give his co-worker Dwight a similar look because he found Dwight's eccentric behavior irritating and weird. I'm not really eccentric. I was quiet and just kept to myself but still I got the look because my everyday behavior wasn't typical enough, I guess.

    This made me realize that I've missed, misunderstood, and flat out failed to recognize a lot of facial expressions and non-verbal feedback from people throughout my life. Even now, at home, I get strange looks from the people I'm living with (not my roommates thank goodness. I moved away from them).

    But today for instance I got a weird look from someone I've known for some years. I know I must have done or said something wrong but I DON'T KNOW WHAT. I just know the other person gave me a weird expression when I spoke to them. And this is really starting to annoy me especially now as I'm actively trying to figure some of these looks out.

    So, do people usually give you facial expressions that you don't recognize/understand? I'm not talking about the general ones like when someone is really happy, sad, or angry. I can get those. But the other more obscure, subtle ones are like I'm trying to figure out a foreign language without any translation. I feel like asking the person outright about what that look they just gave me meant would only make things worst... and more awkward. :confused:
     
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  2. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member

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    Don't consider myself that good with faces, don't spend an awful lot of time looking at them when interacting, not really. I may glance.

    (More tone of voice, breathing, arm and foot placement, posture, shoulders, gait, whole head, ie, tilting to side, looking down, chin jutting and forward and so on)
     
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  3. isthisreallife

    isthisreallife Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I thought I did, turns out that's not always the case
     
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  4. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Me too. :eek:
     
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  5. owlet

    owlet Well-Known Member

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    I tend to get the gist when something is wrong, like a general tone of 'wrongness', but I can't get anything specific or contextualise it unless it's extremely overt. Like if someone is scowling at me just after I've said something, I can assume what I said was taken badly in some way and apologise. I do often tell friends that I'd like them to be very clear if I've done anything to upset them so I can resolve the issue.
     
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  6. Rasendra

    Rasendra slytherin V.I.P Member

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    I definitely struggle with this one, well and tone of voice, words that don't actually mean how they are feeling and things they just say that I am supposed to read between the lines. Except I never seem to be able to locate the lines lol...

    With some people I probably just try to get by but with people I am close to I will ask 'what' or 'what is it' or something along those lines. Particularly to my husband. I can often catch the looks but of course don't know what it is for. Those I am close to, and of course my husband, understand that I can't read the signals well and will often spell it out for me. But it took some time to get there, arguments, frustrations, misunderstandings.

    But in places like work or social functions... lol that's just a nightmare of exhausting effort trying to navigate the hidden meanings of NT secret language.
     
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  7. Nitro

    Nitro Admin/Immoral Turpitude Staff Member Admin V.I.P Member

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    Sometimes I do,but I'm at that "I don't give a damned" stage of my being,so I no longer let it bother me if I don't.
    Come to think of it,I guess I have always been this way :p
     
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  8. Katleya

    Katleya Sarcasm Lover V.I.P Member

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    Umm... I think it's pretty safe to say I fail at most.
    Even that gif from the Office: I've seen the look before, but I was really looking forward to the context explanation, by best guess was it was a replacement for "dunno"
    Maybe that's why I think some people are so ignorant: I read their exasperation as "I dunno". And then I exasperate them some more... :confused:
     
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  9. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I think I'm good with facial expressions -- but I struggle with recognizing why those feelings are happening.....what the expressions are in response to.
     
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  10. Maiki

    Maiki Well-Known Member

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    Me too-- I'm quite good at interpreting expressions/ body language --I think. I'm not so good at predicting how people will act or respond in real time situations. So, phone conversations can be awkward, for sure.
     
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  11. Jet Weiss

    Jet Weiss Incurably Weird

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    I'm actually better at reading facial expressions than I am at interpreting how someone is feeling just by hearing their voice.
     
  12. Chance

    Chance "all who wander are not lost" - Tolkien V.I.P Member

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    I understand a grimising frown and the middle finger... I think that means I did something bad. : )
     
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  13. OlLiE

    OlLiE Well-Known Member

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    i use the following rules:
    - look away, frown or flat smile with thin lips, ridges over eyes, few words, quiet voice = discomfort/fear - add a scrunched up nose for disgust or repulsion
    - look at you (and glance away every so often), smile, flat forehead, more words but at a relaxed speed, louder voice = comfort/engagement
    - look at you intensely, frown or flat smile with thin lips, ridges over eyes loud voice, moving closer =threat/anger
    - looking at you intensely, smile, loud voice speaking quickly, = excitement
    - tears, unengaged voice, slumped shoulders = sad

    basically a face has a number of traits that can evolve from a good status to a bad status,
    the more good the more comfort, the more bad the less comfort

    using the context of the encounter helps to initially decide what's going on and if it's normal or not:
    - meeting a woman for the first time in a date situation = discomfort is normal but should recede throughout date if it is going well
    - coworker: comfort is normal - watch out if it moves towards discomfort and anger
    - friend: comfort is normal and excitement are normal -anger and sad are not

    understanding whether the person you are interacting with is onto or extroverted always helps you understand the context better too:
    - if introvert:discomfort signals may be more about them than you, i.e. its their inherent discomfort, you are not the cause
    - if extrovert: anger or comfort signals may be more about them than you, i.e. these people seem more overwhelming than 'normal', so you should tone down the interpretation of what their signals are meaning

    if one set of facial expressions transitions from good to bad: then ask 'what's going on' if the situation allows it, if in reaction to sadness add 'are you ok', if in reaction to anger ask 'what have i done to upset you' and then just listen

    i is all extremely tiring, if people could just tell you what they are feeling rather than having to interpret their signals...
     
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  14. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    What were you wearing at the time?

    It wasnt a clowns outfit on a tuesday was it?

    Strangely enough I didnt really know what the face meant.

    Pretty sure when the person stopped making the face they would be pathetic.

    If I get a face I usually pause and change tactic. As long as i know it's something.

    But context is key :

    Its hard to forget the cut back the jokes about the dead mother it's still the funeral type face.
    :)
    (Didn't happen alert. I'm not that bad)
     
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  15. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    I like this but i half think people don't know what they're feeling but they expect you to know.
     
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  16. xudo

    xudo something and nothing

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    I'm the same :D Although I would say I'm not the worst with facial expressions, it's more body language and tone of voice I have problems with. I usually can't tell when someone is, for example, bored with what I'm saying.
     
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  17. Southern Discomfort

    Southern Discomfort Smarter than the Average Bear V.I.P Member

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    I'm actually extremely good at recognising facial expressions.
     
  18. spaceman

    spaceman I hear radio waves. .. in my head

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    I think that guy from the office was saying 'eeeeek' or 'awk-warrrd'
    Or that passive aggressive stretched out "OK". As in 'Ohh-Kay'. I never know why people seem to stare or look blankly at me. I never know what people want from me. It's no good me asking either, if it takes them to long to say or too many details, then my head mind starts swimming about. :)
     
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  19. Chance

    Chance "all who wander are not lost" - Tolkien V.I.P Member

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    I just thought of something... I don't like looking people in the eye (why does that just make me feel sick inside?), so maybe sometimes I'm trying very hard to seem normal that I'm not noticing or registering how they look or the expression on their face. Just a thought...
     
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  20. Rasendra

    Rasendra slytherin V.I.P Member

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    I don't like looking at people in the eye either, often try to occupy myself or find something distracting while talking to keep from the awkwardness/stress of it. But if I am not looking at them directly then it leads to missing the chance to even see the signals.

    Apparently it also means I don't notice when friends change their hair or subtle changes in things that are expected that I compliment. Even had a friend dye their hair and I didn't notice the color change lol.
     
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