What do your eyes say when you’re all masked up?

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eyes language -- The Hot Mess Press

How good are you at reading eye language? Before COVID-19 forced us to wear facial masks, many of us did not realize how important facial expressions are when communicating with others. The pandemic changed our lives in many ways. With faces covered by masks, we must learn how to read people’s eyes. Also, spare a thought for those with hearing impairments who rely on lip-reading to communicate. However, unwittingly, they may already have mastered eye-language as a part of reading lips.

Without warning or time to prepare for this, we find ourselves behind masks, communicating with other people as we navigate our days.  We encounter faces behind masks in schools, grocery stores, workplaces, pharmacies, houses of worship and many other places. They challenge us to read their minds or emotions while wondering whether they could read ours. Additionally, the struggle to make out the muffled sounds of conversations increases the risks of misunderstandings.

eyes friendly

Eyes don’t lie

So what are our options? According to a nonverbal communication and body language expert, Patti Wood, much can be read in peoples’ eyes. Patti is also the author of several books on communication. She says our eyes respond involuntarily to everything we see. According to her, learning to read eyes could make it easier to communicate in a society where most people wear face masks.

Furthermore, she says faking emotions that reflect in our eyes is virtually impossible. The saying that our eyes are the windows to our emotional state is valid.

Patti Wood says it will take a while to learn eye language, but practice makes perfect, and over time, we will rely more and more on what we see in the eyes of others.

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Eye contact is crucial

Wood also emphasizes the need for making and keeping eye contact. Not only for reading eye language, but also because sustained eye contact between two people in conversation increases understanding and empathy. She gave the following tips to help us learn eye language:

Would you recognize lying eyes?

How do you feel if a person continuously closes their eyes while talking? Take note that it is typically telltale signs of that person lying. Furthermore, a lying person also struggles to maintain eye contact. Sometimes a person blinks very slowly to avoid eye contact, but if they gaze downward, it might indicate something else, which I will explain next.

eyes friendly

Eyes that gaze downward

This one could be difficult to read because it could mean any one of several things. While it may indicate a lie, a deeply emotional person might gaze downward. This is where it gets interesting. An emotional person’s gaze will go down toward their dominant side. However, if your conversation were not with someone you know well, you would have to first figure out the person’s dominant side..

Likewise, a downward gaze could also show shame, intimidation, submission or deception. Therefore, you would have to look out for other clues that might become clear by the actual words they speak.

eye language sad

How to spot anger in someone’s eyes

Flattening, tight lips and flaring nostrils typically show anger, but now masks hide those signs. However, if you watch their closely, you will see the person’s eyebrows drawing downward by the tensing eye muscles. You might even notice that person’s motionless pupils staring at the source of the anger.

Blinking eyes show anxiety

Frequent blinking of the eyes usually indicates anxiety. Strangely, you might find yours also fluttering when you talk to someone with anxiety who blink more than what is natural.

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Narrowing eyes could indicate disgust

Disgust typically causes a person’s eyes to squint in a narrow, intense stare, focused intently on the aversion source. You will also see lowering, tense eyebrows. As you learn to read the language spoken by people’s eyes, you might even be able to see the facial muscles making the nose wrinkle, despite the mask.

A mask cannot hide surprise

There is no hiding surprise. You don’t even have to see a person’s mouth fall open with wonder because it will be evident in the widening eyes and rising brows.

eye crinkles

Happy or sad?

The crinkles at a person’s outside corners of their eyes are specific indications of happy, laughing faces. When you smile, the upward movement of your cheeks causes the little telltale crinkles. In contrast, droopy eyes show sadness and often avoid interpersonal engagement. Sad eyes appear dull or blank.eyes, glasses, frown

How do men’s eyes show their intentions?

When you meet a man for the first time, wearing a mask, of course, you would want to know their intentions. Flashing eyebrows shows attraction, but also kind intentions. On the other hand, squinting, narrow eyes focused on you communicates aggression, which might show purely physical attraction and nothing more in these circumstances.

Strangely, Patti Wood gave no tips about the woman’s eye language when meeting a masked man for the first time:)

I hope my passing on Patti Wood’s eye language tips would help you to develop skills to look past the masks into the eyes of those with whom you communicate.


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