Friday, February 17, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1191:
Aung San Suu Kyi's
Sincere but Suppressed Smile

There are many insincere smiles which look, to some or most, sincere. In this image however, we see an example of something of the opposite - a sincere smile, that is partially suppressed and thus to some looks like it is less than sincere. The key is in the eyes and eyelids. 

In order for a smile to be rooted in true joy-happiness, the eyelids must be partially closed - AND IN A VERY PARTICULAR WAY. Mild to moderate anger has partial eyelid closure as well, but the eyelids are closed in a different way. Here, Aung San Suu Kyi demonstrates the highly characteristic, concave-up furrows which MUST BE PRESENT in order for the smile to be sincere. Moreover, these furrows will dynamically deepen as the eyelids partially close as the smile increases ("Crows Feet" will also grow more accentuated with smiling - but most people over 35 have some/a lot of crows feet in the non-smiling, resting state - thus any changes are much more difficult to qualify and quantify. Observing for any eyelid partial closure is much more reliable).

One other change that occurs with a true, felt smile (Ekman) is the skin beneath the eyebrow contracts - pulling the eyebrows slightly downwards during a sincere smile of joy-happiness. This is very difficult to see however, especially since in absolute terms, the amount of movement of this tissue is relatively small. It's more reliable to look for the growth of the lower lid, concave-up crease - deepening simultaneous with the partial lid closure (see above).

See also: Secret # 353: Brad Pitt's Eyes - Sincere and Insincere Smiles

Typically with a truly sincere smile, the mouth is open with the upper teeth are exposed (and very little if any of the lower teeth) and the cheeks are bunched upward. Although Ms. Suu Kyi's cheeks are certainly quite characteristic of a Duchenne (sincere) smile, her mouth closure is being suppressed at the moment of this image. Taken in total, this is a very sincere smile of joy-happiness.

Aung San Suu Kyi has got a lot to smile about. As a Burmese Opposition politician and General Secretary for the National League for Democracy, she is running for a lower house (Pyithu Hluttaw) seat in Kawhmu Township, Myanmar. Before her release in November 2010, Ms. Suu Kyi was under house arrest for 15 of the previous 21 years. In 1991, Aung San was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is one of only five people ever having received honorary citizenship from Canada and has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States. Aung San has also received the Rafto Prize, the Jawalharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, as well as the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Good luck Ms. Suu Kyi. Myanmar and the World needs more like you.

See also:  Secret # 391: Hillary Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi