“Micro-Expressions Recognition – How To Use Their Power To Increase Negotiation Skills” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Recognizing micro-expressions allows you to see the inner workings of someone’s inner thoughts.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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“Micro-Expressions Recognition

How To Use Their Power To Increase Negotiation Skills”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Micro-expressions are momentary facial expressions that reveal a person’s genuine emotions. Genuine micro-expressions are involuntarily displays that last for less than a second. And during negotiations, they can provide invaluable insight into unspoken thoughts, thoughts the opposition would rather not disclose.

In this article, I delve into the power of micro-expressions, how to spot them, and how to spot a negotiator who may be faking them. And why might a negotiator fake micro-expressions? Continue, and you will better understand why and how they might do so. And the following insights will also benefit you for the rest of your life.  

Understanding Micro-Expressions

Micro-expressions are tiny facial movements that indicate an individual’s inner emotional state. Sometimes, someone’s facial gestures contradict their spoken words. While these expressions are brief, they can be captured and analyzed by skilled observers.

Micro-expressions comprise subtle changes in the eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, and other facial features. There are seven micro-expressions unique to everyone globally. They are fear, anger, disgust, surprise, contempt, happiness, and sadness.

The Importance Of Micro-Expressions In Negotiations

In negotiations, uncovering the other party’s inner thoughts by reading their micro-expressions can provide the insight needed to give you an advantage. It lets you alter your negotiation strategy if you know they are attempting to mislead you. 

In addition, when you deal with individuals in your daily activities, you will know better about someone’s intent by identifying their micro-expressions. That is another benefit of being able to recognize them.

Recognizing Micro-Expressions

Detecting micro-expressions requires careful observation and analysis. While some people may be more adept at reading these cues naturally, anyone can develop this skill with practice.

Look for rapid and subtle changes in facial expressions, such as a quick raise of an eyebrow, a flicker in the eyes, or a tightening of the lips. Those fleeting gestures often betray a person’s true feelings, even if they try to mask them.

Psychologists have identified seven universal micro-expressions germane to everyone’s human emotions, regardless of where they live. Those expressions include fear, anger, disgust, surprise, contempt, sadness, and happiness. By recognizing micro-expressions, negotiators can better understand their counterpart’s emotional state and be less likely to be misled by them.

Why And How Negotiators Might Fake Micro-Expressions

Question – Why might negotiators fake micro-expressions? Answer – Negotiations are intricate maneuvers by all parties to move the opposition toward achieving a desired outcome. Thus, negotiators devise strategies that will allow them to maneuver their opponent to optimize their efforts.

Those efforts may entail half-truths and deceit to accomplish their goals. In their attempts, they may fake the display of micro-expressions.  

Question – If micro-expressions are genuine displays of emotions that last for less than a second, how might a negotiator or anyone fake them? Answer – Anyone can attempt to display micro-expressions.

The problem is that when someone tries to pretend to project micro-expressions, their displays last longer than a second. They are most likely intentionally signaling you to influence your perspective or decision about their offer or statement.

To discern someone’s genuineness, observe fleeting gestures (less than a second) in the eye, mouth, nose, and forehead areas of their face. The timing of such motions, when they occur in the negotiation, and their duration will also provide clues as to their authenticity.

Micro-Expressions And Negotiation Communication

Micro-expressions add to the communication value of the information exchanged by negotiators. You may have come to that conclusion already. But have you considered the degree of importance it adds? 

Please just answer the question. That was the thought one negotiator had while the other was pontificating.

By reading micro-expressions, you can see through someone’s gestures if they are experiencing fear, anger, disgust, surprise, etc., as the cause of their long-windedness. Based on that insight, you will have gained a perspective on what that individual is afraid of and why they may be babbling. And that insight could become invaluable.

Enhancing Your Micro-Expression Skills

If you wish to become more proficient at reading micro-expressions, you must practice. That discipline is the only way you will enhance your skills.

To do that, you can watch the facial displays people emit to note what you observed. With those you are close with, you can ask if you witnessed their inner thoughts when they displayed a particular gesture; make a game of it. Through their feedback, you will become more proficient at detecting micro-expressions.   

Benefits Of Reading Micro-Expressions

Tell me what I am thinking. You cannot. Why? Because you are either reading or listening to this information.

But, if you and I were face-to-face, might you gain insight into my thoughts based on my gestures? The answer is yes! That is the inherent value of acquiring the skill to read micro-expressions.  

No matter with whom you engage in the future, once you become proficient at reading micro-expressions, you will always have the keys to unlock someone’s hidden thoughts.

You can promenade in someone’s mind, leave no footprints, and unless you wish, they will never know you were there. That is what you call hidden power, which you will have when you become proficient at reading micro-expressions. 


Yes. Micro-expressions reveal hidden thoughts in the minds of negotiators. And yes, you can become a stealthy sleuth by spotting and uncovering the signs that indicate when someone is attempting to mislead you. 

By honing the ability to read micro-expressions, you can become a more effective negotiator and communicator, as you will have a deeper understanding of the unspoken messages conveyed by recognizing someone’s real intent. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://megaphone.link/CSN6318246585

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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