It doesn’t have to happen with intent, in fact, it rarely does.
Micro-emotions appear on our face and then disappear in less than a second. Blink and you’ll miss them. But sometimes, people don’t blink.
We’ve evolved to be hyperware of these tiny displays of emotion.
And yet, most of us don’t even realize it’s happening. We don’t realize we’re seeing the signs, or that we’re sending them.
Someone who sends tiny flashes of empathy is often seen as charismatic. We’re afraid of a dog that seems, in a fraction of a second, to be angry. And we build friendships around our instincts gained from these flashes (or the absence of them)
I had a friend who didn’t realize that when she got nervous, she often winked. As a result, people changed their responses to her, because they misunderstood the tiny signal she was inadvertently sending. Once she realized what was happening, she couldn’t easily extinguish the winks, but at least she knew the cause of the responses and could act accordingly.
The same thing happens, but even more so, with other flashes of emotion. When someone is stressed, nervous or fearful, he might send out previously unacknowledged flashes and signals of those feelings. They might be beyond our control, but the reactions people have are real, and understanding what prompts the response is the first step in moving forward to address them.