Facial Expressions and Building Trust on Video

It is easy to disengage on video – and easier still to forget that we can be seen on video, even when we are not the active speaker. 

Research shows that having a ‘poker’ face on video, whether intentional or not, decreases our ability to build trusting relationships and makes it hard to effectively collaborate. 

As was mentioned in a discussion here on LinkedIn this week, our facial expressions can greatly enhance rapport on video. There are a few reasons for this: 
  • Actively demonstrating you are engaged, alert, paying attention via your facial expressions – helps your fellow video participants ‘see’ that you are following on and digesting the call activity. 
  • Particularly when you are the listener, the speaker is more likely to trust that your reply/interaction takes their account into consideration – that you are a true partner on the call. 
  • Since we can lose other signals like taking notes, ‘mm-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ (due to being on mute), showing how we may be considering other people on video is a necessary component to a dynamic conversation.

A big caveat here…we do want to be sure our expressions are aligned with what we want to express, that is to say, with our intention. 

If we spend the whole time smiling, when really we are confused, it will come as a shock to the others on the call when we don’t behave as they would anticipate based on our nonverbals. 

As always, awareness is key in this equation. For many people, ‘frozen face’ is very common on video and we have to actively remind ourselves to keep our facial expressions engaged, active and in line with our intentions.

This is in fact, the main goal of the Sidekick in-call nudges for facial expressions. If our Sidekick perceives you have been neutral in your facial expression for a period of time, it will send you a gentle, visual nudge reminding you to show you are still part of the virtual room. 

Check out your Sidekick in an upcoming call and see how you do when it comes to facial expression variation!