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Poker face: useful or a hindrance?

Communication between people actually lives from the exchange of words, facial expressions and body language. Sometimes, however, it can be beneficial to have a Poker face To be able to sit up so that the other person cannot immediately read the innermost feelings. Classically in poker, when you want to hide your fellow players about their own cards. Now just don't twitch your eyebrows or look in shock. Are all emotions really hidden in the process? We investigate the question of what microexpression is all about and when a poker face is useful or a hindrance.

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is a poker face?

The term poker face (English poker face = Poker face) describes a face that appears completely motionless and emotionless to a viewer. This facial expression is named after the game of poker, in which it can be tactically of great importance for the player to be able to control his emotions.

If that doesn't work (the antonym to Pokerface is then Tell, ie “tell”), he unintentionally transmits non-verbal signs to his opponents. This allows them to draw conclusions about his cards and adjust their own actions accordingly.

Poker face can refer to both the face and the whole person. He or she is a poker face, that is, leave the face and posture no conclusions towards any emotions.

Emotional immobility is unnatural

Suppressing a smile or staring indifferently into the area can be quite exhausting. Anyone who has ever tried to suppress a laugh because the situation was completely inappropriate knows that. Because actually it is completely against our nature:

Even before man developed the language, he had to develop communicate without words can. Throughout human history we have learned to interpret certain facial expressions.

The American psychologist Paul Ekman was able to prove in the sixties of the last century that certain emotions universal are:

And even today we look at our counterparts to check whether Facial expressions and what is said to match. In this way, telltale gestures can be read that, for example, reveal a lie.

It can be for certain professional groups very important be able to recognize what is going on in the other person. For example for journalists or psychotherapists. Can a source still be classified as serious if his facial expressions reveal that he is obviously lying?

If a patient cannot express his feelings, a psychotherapist who recognizes the emotions correctly can at least guess in which direction the inner life is going. This in turn facilitates a coordinated approach. Attentive managers can, for example, perceive a changed working atmosphere.

Poker face can have psychological causes

In psychology, however, a poker face is an indication of something completely different: Alexithymia is called in technical jargon when people are unable to express their own feelings through facial expressions.

This inability is also present in other people's facial expressions. Alexithymic people cannot properly gauge how other people feel. About ten percent of the population are affected by emotional blindness.

The problem is largely cognitive in nature. Affected people do have feelings, they just find it difficult to assess. What sounds relatively harmless can, according to doctors at the Ulm University Hospitalphysical and mental illness trigger.

Targeted control of emotions

At the same time, people have learned that not every emotion is appropriate at all times. For example in professional context: In order to be able to sell products or services better, employees with regular customer contact in particular need a high level of service thinking and customer orientation.

If the customer is unfriendly, if the salesperson has personal stress or simply has a bad day, a lot is demanded of him. Then you don't just need a poker face, but surface acting.

The poker face is used more often than we realize. When the pop singer Lady Gaga Can’t read my, can’t read my, no he can’t read my poker face sings, it's probably less about gambling than more about love.

More generally speaking: not everyone should know everything about you. After all, in everyday life you are not only faced with people who are you to be met with benevolence. Less nice people may interpret certain emotions as a sign of weakness and try to outsmart you at the next best opportunity.

Body language is often more treacherous

When it comes to poker, players always pay attention to this Face of their teammates. Does anyone put on a poker face? Can you read something from someone else? The interesting thing: a poker face does not have to be decisive for whether someone is bluffing at the game or not.

In poker circles, facial expressions are no longer (at least not exclusively) paid attention to. Indeed it is Body language is often much more treacherous. Michael Slepian, a scientist at Columbia University in New York, showed test subjects videos of poker players in his study.

There was once the entire player, in other clips only individual body parts, so to see face or arm. In predicting a hand, it made no difference at all whether the player's whole body was visible. And precisely those subjects who were supposed to provide an assessment based on their face were wrong.

Instead, the hit rate with regard to the quality of the cards was significantly higher for subjects who had their hands in focus. Researchers suspect the inner excitement hindered the otherwise even movements.

Control or authenticity?

This very fact brings us to the question of what is more important - control or authenticity? Is it useful and therefore worth striving forto be able to put on a poker face? Or is that not tantamount to a lie?

Being authentic has always been valued. We associate it with honesty and sincerity. Such a person has a backbone and does not act completely differently than previously communicated at the next best moment.

From this point of view, it seems absolutely clear that authenticity is always valued more highly than a poker face. On the other hand, it already sounded: we don't always want our counterpart to know everything our inner life White. It doesn't have to mean that someone has something bad to hide.

But suppose you want to close an important deal with a business partner. They really care because you think their product is the best. Unfortunately, his demands are higher than you originally ready were to be paid.

Of course you will try to keep him engaged. Not to let anyone show you that you would be grudgingly willing to pay this price. How successful you will be depends not only on your acting skills, but also on that Attention of your counterpart.

Some researchers are of the opinion that there is no real poker face. Because our face doesn't just express basic emotions. 43 facial muscles alone are capable of more than 10,000 different facial expressions to shape.

Including micro-expressions that within fractions of a second scurry across the face and are therefore so seldom noticed. Such micro-expressions happen when someone actually thinks or feels something different from what he or she admitted to the outside world.

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