Translating Nonverbals – CLE for Attorneys
Dr. Matsumoto recently gave a CLE workshop to the New Hampshire District Court. He is an expert in nonverbal behavior and reading people’s emotions in high-stakes situations.
Being able to read nonverbal communication signs is extremely important in many professions, but especially for attorneys. Dr. Matsumoto and Humintell now specializes in teaching nonverbal communication techniques to lawyers for CLE credit in various states across the nation.
The New Hampshire Bar Association reports on this course and Dr. Matsumoto’s take on learning these techniques and implementing them in daily life.
This specific training seminar focused on training the 172 lawyers and judges in attendance how to recognize microexpressions: involuntary flashes – as quick as one-tenth of a second – of the seven universal expressions of emotion as they zip across human faces. Studies have shown that anger, sadness, happiness, disgust, surprise, fear, and contempt are universally expressed the same way on the human face, regardless of race, gender, culture or other factors. But, you have to watch closely:
“They’re so quick that unless you train your eyes and your mind to see it, you don’t,” Matsumoto said. “And once you learn how to see it, you can’t turn it off.”
A microexpression isn’t proof that someone’s lying. When compared to a personality and behavior baseline, an unexpected microexpression is merely an indicator that the person has some deeper emotion about a particular topic. If the topic is relevant to your case, recognizing that deeper emotion can be useful in depositions, juror voir dire, mediation, or settlement negotiations. If the person happens to be your wife, this skill can be quite troubling.
“I walk into a room and I know immediately if my wife is concerned about something,” Matsumoto said. “For the first five years, it used to drive her nuts, but now she’s used to it… Now, it almost makes things easier, because she doesn’t have to wait for the right time to bring something up. I see it right away.”
Matsumoto’s new research is focused on how reading emotions might help predict future behavior. He’s studying how emotions work in terrorist groups and whether authorities can predict, based on how a person approaches a checkpoint, whether he or she is lying or carrying contraband. He’s using test subjects wired with biometric sensors – some who are carrying contraband and some who aren’t – to try to identify differences in the way they approach the checkpoint.
“I believe there is a difference, but we haven’t found it yet,” he said.