It's Written All Over Your Face

“In an ideal world, nobody has to tell lies. We have been educated to lie and conceal our emotions, which is a foolish mistake responsible for all the world’s pains.” Guy Pardillos

Haggard and Isaacs first discovered micro-expressions in the 1960s. Then Charles Darwin has been the first scientist to claim the existence of micro-expressions and their similarities between animals and hu- man beings in terms of communication. Charles Darwin wrote a book about micro-expressions called “The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” published in 1872.

Based on the work of Charles Darwin, Dr. Paul Ek- man pushes the research to the next level by proving that microexpressions are universal and are not determined culturally. In 1976 Dr. Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen created the Facial Action Coding System (F.A.C.S) They are used today by psychologists and researchers.

No mortal can keep a secret.

If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.


Limbic system

The limbic system essentially consists of what was previously known as the limbic lobe. The limbic system supports various functions, including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction. Emotional life is housed mainly in the limbic system, which significantly deals with micro-expressions.

Everyone feels emotions, but the way to express them differs from one person to another. Micro-expressions are direct and involuntary physical responses to those emotions.

Our face is composed of 43 muscles and can make up to 10000 different expressions. Twelve of them are primarily contributing to the face’s expressions.

Here is the list of the necessary 12 muscles to create the seven universal micro-expressions:

1. The squinter (Orbicularis Oculis)

2. The brow-lifter (Frontalis)

3. The corrugator

4. The lid-lifter (Levator palpebrae)

5. The sneering (Levator labii Sup.)

6. The smiling (Zygomatic major)

7. The triangularis

8. The lip stretcher (Rizorius)

9. The platysma

10. The speaking (Depressor labii inf)

11. The pouting (Mentalis)

12. The lip tightener (orbicularis oris)

7 Universal Micro-Expressions


  • The lip corner tightened and raised only on one side.

When you see contempt on somebody’s face, the person feels superior or considers another person inferior.

The expression of contempt can also appear during a smile when you observe a lip corner raising quicker and higher than the other.


  • Eyebrows down and together
  • Eyes glare
  • Lips pressed together

There are six different expressions of anger. You can keep in mind that the micro expression of anger always involves frowning eye- brows, staring eyes, and lips pressed together.


  • Eyebrows raised
  • Eyes widened
  • Mouth open

The surprise is shown by the raising of the upper eyelids shortly. The eyebrows can be raised; differently; they can be just a conver- sational signal. Drop or open mouth is also part of the micro expres- sion of surprise.


  • Crow’s feet wrinkles
  • Pushed up cheeks
  • Curled lip corners

Happiness is easy to recognize; a genuine smile called the

“Duchenne smile” involves the contraction around the eyes, creating the “crow’s feet wrinkles.” A fake smile will affect only the lips, and smiles performed without eye contraction may be perceived as insincere.


  • Inner eyebrows raised
  • Losing eyes focus
  • Both lip corners pulled down

There are also six variations of sadness, but when you see the lip corners pulled down, chin up, pressed lips, and inner eyebrows raised, this accurately indicates sadness.


  • Inner eyebrows raised and pulled together
  • Raised upper eyelids
  • Tensed lower eyelids
  • Lips stretched horizontally back to ears

A real fear will stay longer than the expression of surprise. The lips are stretched horizontally, and the upper eyelids are raised, show- ing the white of the eyes. Beware, a fake surprise can hide a real fear.


  • Nose wrinkling
  • Upper lip raised

One thing particular about the microexpression of disgust is the wrinkles around the nose. If you see this micro-expression on your client’s face, he’s not interested. It’s time to change your offer.

Time to test your knowledge.

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Guy Pardillos

Guy Pardillos, Mentalist, consultant & trainer in Nonverbal Communication.

I entertain, train, and coach people to strengthen their communication skills using the power of nonverbal communication to overcome obstacles standing between them and their greatness.

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