Laura Erkeneff - Insights to Leadership - Mask Your FeelingsIn 1975, R.T. Stein found that when observers were given records of a group’s non-verbal behavior, they could accurately identify emerging leadership.  This includes facial expressions, eye contact, body movement and touching. The perceptions group members hold of one another’s facial expressions
can, and does, influence their individual responses.  Masking is another interesting factor when working with and developing groups or teams.

Unfortunately, masking can produce unwanted results because it does not convey the true or real responses within the audience.  Masking can occur, for instance, when a person in the group is embarrassed by comment by another.  Rather than respond negatively or in anger the person may be apt to respond with almost a frozen smile.

1.    Group members depend on facial expressions to gain additional information a verbal message or the source of the message.

There are six categories that can be accurately detected from facial expressions:
happiness, anger, surprise, sadness, disgust and fear.

2.    Group members frequently will “mask” their true feelings by displaying a fcial expression that does not represent what they inwardly believe or feel.

3.    Group members may mask to avoid hurting another group member’s feelings or to conceal information.

4.    Be attentive to masked facial expressions in order to avoid potential interpersonal communication problems.

(Source: Groups in Process; Barker, Wahlers, Watson and Kibler)