Dan Hill is a facial decoder that has experienced times when he’s not been able to practice emotional intelligence as much as he would like. But Dan is a master facial coder and uses his skills to detect opportunities to exceed customer expectations, build rapid rapport, and to see opportunities that most people are blind to.
Born in Minot, North Dakota, and raised mostly in East Dakota (more commonly known as Minnesota), Dan’s childhood had one major, unique disruptive event. At age 6, the family (including his mom and sister) all moved to Italy because his dad had received an assignment from the 3M Company to manage a film processing plant along the Italian Riviera. Suddenly, Dan found himself in 1st grade in an Italian fishing village – and not knowing the language – could only participate in the math lessons. All of his other time went to reading the body language of his new classmates and teacher, and trying to get “the lay of the land.”
A year and a half later, as the family was heading to England to get a boat home to America came a 2nd, ultimately significant event: in Amsterdam, Dan saw the paintings of Rembrandt – which spurred his interest in emotions, personalities, and expressions. It’s on our faces, after all, that we best reveal our feelings, and eventually, Dan would be an art history minor in college at St. Olaf College before going on to receive a Ph.D. in English from Rutgers University.
Ever since his early adventures in Europe, Dan has been an explorer – curious about learning more about most everything. Nothing remains more fascinating, however, than human nature. The 3rd big event in Dan’s life, and his career, came in 1998 when Dan was working at a consulting company focused on the customer experience, trying to ghost-write a book for the company’s president, and somebody, his boss, knew at IBM sent over an article about the breakthroughs in brain science and their implications for business. The underlying truth – about 95% of our mental activity is subconscious, and our reactions to the world are primarily sensory and emotive (not rational).
Armed with that insight, Dan decided to launch his own company, Sensory Logic, that pioneered the use in business of the scientific tool called facial coding to capture and quantify customers’ emotional experiences. His company has gone on to do work for over 50% of the world’s top 100 business-to-consumer companies, and he’s also applied the tool in presidential politics and pro sports.
Dan is also the author of Famous Faces Decoded: A Guidebook for Reading Others. His contribution to society and the business world is bringing the role of emotions front and center. Since Dan’s pioneering efforts, major players like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have followed his lead. The Economist magazine has described the result of combining AI with the automation of facial coding as the emerging “facial-industrial complex.”
Nowadays, Dan lives in alternating seasons in St. Paul, MN, and Palm Desert, CA, with his wife, a retired clothes designer. When not working, you’re likely to find him either on a tennis court or watching a movie for fun.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“If you read the face of someone, there’s so much information there.” – Click to Tweet
“The most vital 25 squares inches of territory in the world is in the middle of the face.” – Click to Tweet
“Emotions are really contagious. The emotion we give off, we’re going to get back.” – Click to Tweet
“If you make a certain expression over and, over it eventually etches itself into your face.” – Click to Tweet
“There are seven emotions in facial coding; there of them are approach emotions.” – Click to Tweet
“People who are happy tend to get to superior solutions more quickly.” – Click to Tweet
“Trust is the emotion of business and contempt is its opposite.” – Click to Tweet
“Actions speak louder than words and quick micro-expressions in the face are action.” – Click to Tweet
“They’ve got speaking points as they come in to be hired, but are the feeling points matching up?” – Click to Tweet
“We expect more from a leader than them just getting to stay in their comfort zone.” – Click to Tweet
“Having a sense of humor makes you more human.” – Click to Tweet
“Don’t imagine you’re going to accomplish everything; just get to the essentials.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Dan Hill is a facial decoder that has experienced times when he’s not been able to practice emotional intelligence as much as he would like. But Dan is a master facial coder and uses his skills to detect opportunities to exceed customer expectations, build rapid rapport, and to see opportunities that most people are blind to.
Advice for others
Control the discourse. You only get ahead in life if you keep track of what you want to accomplish.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
I’m not the best listener.
Best Leadership Advice
You have to bring people with you, don’t give them a sense that it’s unfair.
Secret to Success
Humor. I love the good joke that works for someone.
Best tools in business or life
Keep it simple, simple is smart.
Contacting Dan Hill
Call Center Coach – https://www.callcentercoach.com
Show TranscriptClick to access edited transcript
Jim Rembach (00:00):
Okay, fast leader Legion. Today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s going to help all of us advance a very, very important skill that is becoming more important as days go by and that’s our emotional intelligence.
Jim Rembach (00:51):
Dan Hill was born in Minot, North Dakota and raised mostly in East Dakota, more commonly known as Minnesota. Dan’s childhood had one major unique disruptive event at age six the family, including his mom and sister all moved to Italy because his dad had received an assignment from the three M company to manage a film processing plant along the Italian Riviera. Suddenly Dan found himself in first grade in an Italian fishing village and not knowing the language could only participate in the math lessons and all his other time went to reading the body of language of his new classmates and teacher and trying to get the lay of the land. A year and a half later as the family was headed to England to get a boat home to America came a second ultimately significant event in Amsterdam. Dan saw the paintings of Rembrandt, which spurred his interest in emotions, personalities and expressions.
Jim Rembach (01:49):
It’s on our faces after all that we best reveal our feelings and eventually Dan would be an art history minor in college at St. Olaf College before going on to receive a PhD in English from Rutgers university. Ever since his early adventures in Europe, Dan has been an Explorer. Curious about learning more and most everything. Nothing remains more fascinating. However, then human nature, the third big event in Dan’s life and his career came in 1998 when Dan was working at a consulting company focused on the customer experience, trying to ghost write a book for the company’s president and somebody his boss knew at IBM sent over an article about the breakthroughs in brain science and their implications for business. The underlying truth, about 95% of our mental activity is subconscious and our reactions to the world are primarily sensory and emotive. They’re not rational.
Jim Rembach (02:42):
Armed with that insight, Dan decided to launch his own company sensory logic that pioneered the use of in business of the scientific tool called facial coding to capture and quantify customer’s emotional experiences. His company has gone on to do work for over 50% of the world’s top 100 business to consumer companies and he’s also applied the tool in presidential politics and pro sports. Dan’s contribution to society and the business world is bringing the role of emotions front and center. Since Dan’s pioneering efforts, major players like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have followed his lead. The economist magazine has described the result of combining AI with the automation of facial coding as the emerging facial industrial complex. Nowadays, Dan lives in alternating seasons and Saint Paul, Minnesota and Palm desert, California with his wife Karen Bernthal, a retired clothes designer. When not working, you’re likely to find him either on a tennis court or watching a movie for fun. Dan Hill, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Dan Hill (03:54):
Absolutely. Nice to meet you, Jim. Oh, thank you.
Jim Rembach (03:56):
Dan. You’ve actually authored several books. Uh, but the book that we’re going to be talking about today kind of brings together a lot of the, the research and findings that you have. And I love the way that you did it. It’s called famous faces decoded. So Dan, tell us about your current passion and how we can get to know you even better.
Dan Hill (04:12):
Sure. Well, with this book, I really wanted to give it something that made it relatable for people. So I wanted celebrity stories. So I took Hollywood stars, I took music stars, uh, certainly business leaders and politicians, media types, uh, anything that people can relate to where there was a backstory because that makes it much more human and much more accessible. So I’m trying to cover what are the triggers of emotions? What do they mean? How do they show in the face and what in the world can you do about it all to plug it back in to make both your career and your personal life, you know, more pleasant, more effective that make you a better Mitch. Well, I better wouldn’t
Jim Rembach (04:49):
say when you start talking about, you know, the, the skill that you have currently and continuously built over the past, you know, two plus decades, uh, is becoming in more need and demand today than it has ever before. Now, what are the forces
Dan Hill (05:05):
that are causing that to happen? Well, I think one is screen time. We are so caught up in looking at the text messages and thumbing this and that back to somebody. We have lost track of the fact that we are, everything in business is people to people. And that means you have to understand who’s there. We, we desperately sent all these emoticons to correct the miscomprehension is the miscommunication that happens because of what we just typed on this device. Uh, I remember being at media and McDonald’s and the woman said, Oh, just a second. My boss in Germany just misunderstood what I just typed. I have to desperately send another message. If you read the face of someone, there’s so much information there. Someone has said that the most vital 25 square inches of territory in the world is in the middle of the face.
Dan Hill (05:49):
It is, you know, right around our eyes, our nose, her mouth, and the first person who got this is probably the most brilliant person who ever lived, da Vinci, Leonardo DaVinci. If you look at his notebooks, what you’ll discover is that he looked at human anatomy. He came to understand how we express our emotions. So in all the other brilliant things he did, it took another 200 years for anyone to be as good as DaVinci was and understanding emotions as displayed in our faces. That’s why MonaLisa is such a fascinating painting. The same thing that goes into the painting you should apply to your daily life. It can be in a call center contact. It could be at a business meeting with your boss. It can be going home and talking to your spouse afterwards, but get yourself with a higher emotional IQ and you’re going to be better off.
Jim Rembach (06:37):
Well, I think it’s also important here for us to really kind of put a little bit more of a focus in on, you know, the discipline that we’re talking about here. So this falls under emotional intelligence and there’s two things that you talk about in the book is that we have social intelligence and then we have our personal intelligence. A part of this is some of that self-discovery component, you know, how are we expressing ourselves and then how to read that in others. But it’s also important to note that like you had mentioned, is that a lot of this is just subconscious response. So somebody may not even have cognitively understood that their face displayed something. Is that correct?
Dan Hill (07:14):
Oh, it’s absolutely correct. Emotions are really contagious. And the emotion we give off, we’re going to get back. It’s, it’s tit for tat and a whole bunch of situations in life. And that better you can pick up on those dynamics, the better off you’re going to be. And just as a person, we tend to have patterns. Everything in life has patterns. We have what I call signature expressions. There is a wonderful comment from the writer, George Orwell who said, by the age of 50, a man has the face he deserves because we have muscle memory. And if you make a certain expression over and over, it eventually etches itself into your face and that’s going to change the dynamic of who you’re interacting with. If you tend to anger, if you’re a hothead, it’s going to show up and that’s going to have some implications for how your conversation goes.
Jim Rembach (08:01):
You know, as you were saying that, it kind of brings me to this, um, um, thing that I found on, on the internet and has been shared probably tens of thousands of times where they talk about this resting, you know, BITC H face. Right? And it’s true. I mean it’s, you know, like sometimes we look at people, it’s like, you know, why are you angry at me? It’s like they’re not even thinking about you. Right.
Dan Hill (08:24):
Absolutely. And part of that comes how do you have really attractive women and they have this resting BITC H face because they don’t have to use their social skills. It’s almost as if they are the, I guess I’ll say gender female equivalent of a really rich guy if I’ve got a lot of money or really great looks that I’ve got something in the bank and maybe I’m signaling in a way that I don’t really have to interact with you in a decent way, in a, in a fair level playing field sort of way that I’m above you. And so that means I can go to anger, can go to contempt or I can go to no emotion at all because I’m not going to make the effort to interact with you.
Jim Rembach (09:01):
Well. And when we start thinking about that in today’s world where it’s an experience based economy, we really have to connect with customers, colleagues, all of those things that can have some serious impact in our ability to, you know, Excel to positions of greater responsibility, uh, to, you know, that can impact our income. You know, we talk about emotional intelligence affecting, you know, a significant portion of our ability to, to experience success. And monetary is right with it. But one of the things that we don’t talk about is this variability of emotional intelligence. And to me this is a core one because it’s kind of that first impression, gold mine or tragedy.
Dan Hill (09:43):
Oh absolutely. Just last night I had dinner with Joe pine. He’s the coauthor of the experience economy. So there’s no way in business you’re always going to have an experience. It can be good, it can be bad, it could be a different, and what are you going to have with an experience? You’re going to have emotions. It’s a story that’s unfolding and as Hollywood knows and he’s story, it’s going to involve emotion. And what’s the emotional pager on the back side? One of my favorite comments about business is that there are two emotions in business as in life. One is dollars and one is emotions. And if you take care of the second one, the first one’s going to look a whole lot better.
Jim Rembach (10:20):
Most definitely. Okay, so now let’s talk about the specifics of being able to do this type of detection and interpretation and analysis. So you have identified seven core emotions, but then you also talk about four forms per emotion. And all of this goes into 23 different expressions. So if you could kind of break this down for us.
Dan Hill (10:40):
Sure. So there are seven emotions in facial coding. Three of them are approach emotions. So that means that I’m moving toward my target, my object, the positive one is happiness. I am going to hug, I’m going to embrace, I’m going to be open to consideration. If I’m in a contact center, customer contact center, and I’m talking to someone. And in the future and why this is relevant is because we’re going to have technology that, uh, labels us, not just hear their voice but see their face and they can see our face. And so all that telepathy or empathy, all of that contagion is going on emotionally. So it’s really important to know that happiness is not a trivial emotion. People who are happy tend to get to superior solutions and more quickly, they are really good at brainstorming. So if I’ve got a customer problem and I’m coming across as a happy camper, it’s probably not just that I’m coming across with a fake smile.
Dan Hill (11:34):
It means that I am really expansive and trying to figure out how to connect with you and get to a better solution. That’s fabulous. Now the other heavy hint or emotion is anger because happiness and anger together are about 70% of everyone’s emoting on average, 70% so the other five that we can cover our, only the other 30% what’s the essence of anger to hit? So happiness, to hug, anger to hit. So you have somebody who’s calling you ans customer, they’re calling you because they’re not happy. So now we’re quite possibly in the realm of anger. They could be confused about how your company’s offer works, the kind of service they got or fail to get a why. So there could be confusion. It could be resistance like you did this to me, I am not accepting that kind of treatment. It could be that they don’t see a path to progress because anger can also mean we feel like we are, we’re losing control of our situation and that there are barriers to our progress and we get angrier to the extent that we think the barriers are unfair.
Dan Hill (12:36):
So anytime you start with this kind of thing, you have to say they’ve got happiness, anger, do I have some other emotion? And then let’s say with anger, because it’s so likely to be important. What we’re talking about, four forms of anger. One is super intense anger. This is like the dog where you took away its bone and it’s growling at you. And so a really reliable way to see this is that the mouth, the lips will tighten together. The mouth will be really tight and there’ll be a bolt below the middle of the lower lip. A telltale bolts sticking out. That is an angry person and the first thing you’re going to have to do in business as in life is try to bring the anger quotient down. Try to bring some calm to this situation. Otherwise you’ve got a nuke reactor that’s about to blow.
Dan Hill (13:20):
It’s three mile Island all over again, so that’s the most intense version. There’s another version where they eyes narrow and the eyebrows come down and they’re kind of like giving you the hard snake eyes. Look, that’s not quite as bad as what I just gave you, but it’s also worrisome. The next one I think in business you can work with this is concentration. The eyebrows will come together, the lips will come together, but lightly there’s no bulge below the middle of the lower lip. This is someone that’s a reasonable person. They are concentrating on their words, they’re trying to take in your message. They’re trying to figure out how to make this into a win win. You can work with that person. Your best thing that you can hope for if you’re in customer contact role is what I call the golden blend. This is the last of the four forms of anger, a mixture of happiness and anger. So they’re expansive, they’re receptive, you can talk to the person, but they also have a purpose. They are signaling at certain moments with that anger that they do indeed want to get to an outcome and let’s get there sooner than later if you don’t mind.
Jim Rembach (14:22):
You know, as you’re talking, I’m sitting there and thinking about some of the things that were, we talk about in the contact center space in regards to speech analytics, voice biometrics and, well to me when we start talking about this, that our, our next frontier is going to be the whole, you know, facial decoding, biometric. Absolutely. And then thinking about the whole ability to infuse AI into that where it’s actually being able to read faster than we can and it’s giving us cues.
Dan Hill (14:48):
Yeah, no, I think what’s going to happen in the future is you’re going to eventually not just the ability to see their face and them to see your face. You’re going to have a little output if you’re working at one of these centers and you’re going to actually have an identified for you in real time what emotion they’re feeling. But where that still leaves you is the ability to have emotional intelligence and say, ah, it’s anger and anger means these sorts of things. You know, I don’t have control. I’m not making progress. Uh, I’ve resisted to what you’re doing. I confused. Or even I’m resentful. You’ve offended me in some way. Uh, you’ve, you’ve challenged my value system, so you got five probably really good possibilities. Which one is it that helps explain the anger that’s just been identified for you or that you picked up yourself through the voice, through the face and the software.
Dan Hill (15:38):
Once we have that opportunity. So how can I then plug that into my solution? If it’s confusion you believe because the eyebrows are pinching together and lowering, that just means you guys get back to clarity. You have to say a question to them like what is it here that you really don’t understand? If you think it’s lack of progress, maybe it’s what one thing here do you think is really holding this up the most or what do you think is unfair here and that’s going to give you the lead in to get to a solution that’s going to take that anger away from them. Well I start thinking about this. I mean I started, I started looking at your work in this and you’ve actually been awarded several patents. I mean do these patents that you’ve been awarded, will they assist and support what we’re talking about here and making it to where I can now start doing this at scale.
Dan Hill (16:27):
I can start interpreting it, scale. I can start, you know, really connecting, you know, at scale. Yes. And they also involve some extra permutations. Now let’s switch over to happiness cause that’s the other vital emotion that happens so often. But there are different levels of happiness. So joy is when the muscle around the eye relaxes and you get the twinkle in the eye. It’s called a true smile because you can’t fake it. And if you can bring the customer to that moment, that’s golden because we’ll pay good money to be extremely happy. As Woody Allen said, happiness makes up in height, what it lacks in length. So if we can get that high elation moment, great. The smile you have to worry about isn’t really a smile. It is the begrudging little smile to half smile. It’s really brief on the face. And that means something like that’s the worst joke I ever heard, but at least you tried to humor me. So you might say, ah, I’ve got, I’m smiling now. No, there’s guys kind of on the window ledge and they could turn back and flip into anger or some other negative emotion really readily. Uh, and in between that is, you know what I call pleasure and satisfaction. You’re, you’re in play. But they could go high or low and it’s all volatile and you need to keep track of where you’re actually at in that process. Okay. So you know, you talk about this 23, um,
Jim Rembach (17:50):
and I’m actually subconsciously, you know, looking and doing the interpretation, but I need to be able to pull those into my, my conscious or cognitive mind. And you actually talk about a progression or maturity process that we all have to go through. And it’s, first of all, it’s emotional literacy. Um, and then we have to understand how emotion shows on faces. Uh, and then also we have to be able to apply forms of expression. So I mean, realistically, I mean, what does that process look like for us to be able to gain these skills? I mean, you’ve been doing it for a couple of decades, but how can someone really go on a pathway to actually getting better at this?
Dan Hill (18:29):
Sure. Well, I wanted to write my book to make it more accessible. Dr Ekman, bless his heart. The professor who’s the expert at this is manual, was 500 pages long, 500 pages full of tedious instructions. So I boiled the whole bag down to less than half that length. And it’s full of stories and examples and visuals that you can relate to. It’s celebrities who all know. So the real key here is those expressions are not that hard to learn. It’s 23, it’s not 97, it’s 23 expressions and you’re probably gonna find as the average person that you gravitate to certain expressions that just naturally you can pick up readily that just are your, your, your wheelhouse so to speak. Uh, because anger is so common, you’re going to see it a lot and you should just start with the mouth. Is the mouth open if it’s closed, is it closed a little bit?
Dan Hill (19:25):
Is it closed really tightly? Is it closed so much that it’s like a dog who again, the bone has been taken away from it and it’s a growl. What level of hap anger? GSC, I think anybody can do that and they can do it quickly. Uh, you might think a certain expression is important to you. Uh, I would suggest you go to contempt, uh, with a quarter of the mouth poles up and wide and you have a little, I called pocket tornado, a little tension with an indentation in the corner of the mouth. That’s a sign of disrespect and distrust. It is the most reliable indicator that our marriage will fail. In fact, that the university of Washington, Seattle, they have a love lab. Couples in distress, marriages come in with 10 minutes of videotape, facially coded, a 90% accuracy rate that the couple will stay married or not 90%.
Dan Hill (20:15):
So if it’s not good to show contempt between spouses, you can imagine between a customer and a company. Also bad news. So I would say, yeah, there’s 23 expressions, whatever you do, pick up contempt because trust is the emotion of business. Contempt is, is opposite. And then go back to the heavy hitters. Smiling’s easy in a way. Is it just around the mouth? Is that the twinkle in the eye? If it’s anger, start with the mouth and how much compression there is there. I learned facial coding in simply one weekend. I took Ackman’s manual and maybe have an advantage cause I lived overseas and I’m visually oriented an art minor. But honestly I took his manual, I said what are the important parts? And I threw a bunch away. I cut out the parts that mattered to me. I looked at a place where I had a visual that can help me because we’re visual learners.
Dan Hill (21:06):
And before the weekend was over and I did put in probably 35 hours, but before the weekend is over, I felt I had a reasonable grasp of what these were. So I think with my book, which is much more accessible than Ackman’s manual, I’ve already done the cutting and pasting for you basically. And they’re just a small number of diagrams you have to go to. So go to the emotions that are most common. Go to the emotions that are most important. Go to the emotions that you simply seem to have a proclivity for in terms of picking up.
Jim Rembach (21:34):
Well, and as you’re talking, there’s a couple of things that start hitting. I mean I start seeing hitting me and my and I start thinking about even the hiring process.
Dan Hill (21:40):
Yes. And we should bring in one other element. So there are seven core emotions, but one that’s really important is another way of looking at emotional engagement and your face is are they engaged emotionally? Do they show any emotions? Because motivation and emotion have the same root word in Latin move rate to move to make something happen. I would say there’s nothing worse than two qualities and tell me you’re going to hire one is flat affect. They don’t care. This is just a job. This is what a friend of mine said. Well you have a lot of until workers and what they, what he meant by that was until five o’clock until the next job, until you fire me cause you’re wising up, et cetera, et cetera. You do not want to hire that sort of person if you can help it. So lack of engagement is really worrisome.
Dan Hill (22:28):
I had a person who I hired at you as smart as could be and he couldn’t have cared less. It didn’t work out optimally. The other thing I think you really have to worry about actually in hiring is fear and the most reliable way that fear shows is that the mouth poles wide. And why is this a problem who you hire because someone who is paralyzed by fear who freezes up because of fear will not have self initiative. They will wait for you to tell them what to do and then no way for you to tell them three more times and then they’ll take up your time by asking did I do it right? And a lot of hand holding is going to have to happen. And so lack of engagement, fear really bad news. And then I would say yes, contempt actually. Because if they don’t respect you and your higher the amend your, your staff meetings are going to be a disaster. It’s going to be like you can film mutiny on the bounty with people like this. You just don’t do the headache and the heartache.
Jim Rembach (23:26):
Well, and even as you’re talking, I’m starting to think about their feelings about themselves too. And how much of that could come out to play. I mean, sure for me, if I’m finding that I’m having to take a step down, you know, maybe I have contempt for myself that I’m actually applying for this position. I mean I see all these things started running through my head. So how do we know that we’re actually interpreting correctly? I mean is there a way that we can, you know, be conscious, read something and then maybe go into some voice dialogue, some voice Q and a something to help us really understand if we’ve interpreted correctly.
Dan Hill (23:54):
Uh, Jim, that’s an excellent point. Yes, you need to do some diagnostics and follow up to make sure that you’re read that you can really narrow down what it means. So let’s take the smirk cause I’m putting a lot of innocence on contempt here. Do I see a contempt expression along with a smile? Maybe even just a slight smile. Well that could actually be confidence. So you might have a followup question. You know, what’s your skill set here? Why do you think you’re so good for this job? You know, why do you think you can stand up, step into the role readily and make it happen? Because that’s sort of combination of a smirk and a smile. Well one guy who shows it, it’s Tom Brady.
Dan Hill (24:31):
And if you can hire someone on your staff has got the career statistics of Tom Brady who was, you know, a pretty low draft choice. That’s good news. But if you see I contempt expression with some anger, now I’m going, huh. So there’s some resistance there and there’s some superiority given off cause they got the smirk going and they find me beneath them. So now is it back to themselves? This is a low level job. You might want to ask where they’re going to be in five years. How do they see their career progressing? How does this job role fit into that? Is it, you know, they don’t like a command and control structure. So you think that you know where they are in the organization, who they have to report to. Your style’s a boss to me. You might not be able to ask those questions directly, but you might say, you know, what kind of organizational structure you think you Excel at. You know, are you a good team player? You like to take individual initiative, you like direction from a boss. I’m much coaching Jeewan you you have to do, I mean your question is so good because you’re going to have to stay in that game. You’re gonna have to replace Sherlock Holmes. You’re going to have to go to a couple other levels probably to really know you picked up the signal and made the best use of what you were seeing.
Jim Rembach (25:44):
And I would do have to bring up, cause you and I had this discussion off Mike and previously is um, there was a television show that kind of made a lot of this famous called lie to me that I just loved. And it unfortunately didn’t, didn’t go on for more than a season or two. Um, but one of the things that they brought out because it started to be coming in the limelight, is how they said that this particular science is a fuzzy science. Um, what, what would be your rebuttal to that?
Dan Hill (26:11):
Well, I think it’s, it’s fuzzy in two respects. One is a lot of people think this is just a lie detection device, and as dr Ackman would tell you, there is no lie detection, facial movement. There’s nothing that gives away the person’s being deceptive. Yeah. Because think about it from an evolutionary point of view. Do we all want to go around with an expression that tells people immediately I’m a liar? No, we’re not going to know. We’re not going to live very long. We’re not going to get hired. That one’s going to want to marry us. So on and so forth. So he wouldn’t, beings are more subtle than that. So yes, sometimes it be that you, you try to go to a flat effect of poker face. It might be that you get indignant and say, you know, I did not have sexual relations with that woman ad you’re pointing your lip, you’re acting really defy.
Dan Hill (26:53):
Like how could I possibly be like our to be nonpartisan about it. You could have Richard Nixon being interviewed about Watergate by David Frost and say, you know, I was not a crook. Presley can do whatever he wants. Nixon showed so much fear in that interview. I mean there was really no question, but you know, different people will show this in different sorts of ways. So I think that’s one the reasons why people think it’s quote unquote fuzzy because I just want to know what they’re lying now. It’s not that simple. The other reason I think it gets a little bit fuzzy because people think every expression should go to just one emotion and some do. So when the lips press tight, that’s anger. When the mouth poles wide, that’s fear. But you have other times, like for instance, when the eyebrows in the middle shoot upwards and pull together, that actually shows surprise because anytime the eyebrows go bigger, the eyes actually have a more expansive territory.
Dan Hill (27:47):
They can see more. So surprises about taking in information, something has changed in your world. So that’s one thing that that expression shows. But it also shows fear in part because the eyes are pinching together like, Oh my God, something new. But what is it? And finally the eyebrows coming together arching up also reveals sadness. Uh, I can remember so distinctly, there was an instance where there was some hostage taking at an elementary school and the father got there, they basis of do the terrorists and he got his young boy back in his hands. But the boys still had the sadness on his face because sadness can indicate that you feel alone, that you’re betrayed, that it’s hopeless. And I’m sure there was a point where that young boy in the school with the terrorist felt like it was hopeless and that feeling did not go away quickly.
Dan Hill (28:37):
So you’ve got three different emotions going on and now I’m Sherlock Holmes and I have to get to which of those emotions might be most pertinent. Did they start out with fear and it kind of like baked into them and they got to a point where they felt like it’s hopeless and I’ll never get out of this situation. Is it the sadness that’s the most important thing or was it surprise? And then we can move through the surprise and they’re eventually going to be able to cope. So I do have to take those emotions into account. And so some of the expressions go to a solo emotion and some of them go to two or three. And that’s important because the biggest critique that’s been made by people, it’s like, well I’m just going to show them one photograph that’s supposedly going to tell me who they are and this expression, it’s going to show all the ways of, of of sadness being shown, her anger being shown. That’s unlikely cause those have multiple expressions or I’ve got an expression in my face and it goes to more one emotion. Well, I don’t want to deal with complexity, well, sorry, life is not always a McDonald’s hamburger. Sometimes you’ve got to sit down the meal and think about it a little bit longer and take more time. It just, sometimes you have to, that’s why it’s positive, but it’s really, it’s not so fuzzy. It’s just got some limitations like everything else in life.
Jim Rembach (29:52):
Well I think that’s a very good point. And I also, um, you know, I, I would think that you have to really kind of what you said, you know, take that approach is that it’s more investigative in nature and that I want to be able to, you know, help myself make a better decision. And so knowing this information becomes important and, and, and when I start thinking about this, I also start thinking about the separation between, you know, the average and the extraordinary. I would dare to say that people who have, you know, extraordinary performance, and if we can look at that across a multitude of different industries and career types and you know, different permutations is that they probably have, if they haven’t studied it, a natural starting point that’s above normal in regards to interpreting things.
Dan Hill (30:41):
Yeah. Well, let’s go back to the two situations you mentioned. So I got a person across the desk from me and it’s a job interview. I would understand that they might be a little bit afraid when they start the interview, you know, who is this person, how’s it going to go and so forth. But you had hoped that the fear subsides a bit as you move through the interview. You would also hope that you’re building some rapport with the person because you’re going to be spending a lot of time together. So do they laugh at your jokes? Do you find some commonality? You know, if you don’t get some happiness in that blend somewhere. Yeah, this is, this is a bad decision to hire this person. If I’m on the phone with someone, there’s a really good chance that they would be calling in with anger or disgust or fear.
Dan Hill (31:20):
So let me cover each of those. Why could they have fear? Because the calling it, cause they didn’t get what they wanted. There was no customer service as far as they’re concerned. But they’re not as powerful as you. They’ve already given their money over to the company. They’re looking for you for a solution, but they realize they’re the midget and you’re the giant, you’ve got all the resources, you got their money and are you going to really help them out. So can you move them off that fear, if they call him with disgust, well discuss is really a classic way is that the nose wrinkles, something smells bad or the upper lip curl because something tastes bad. So as far as they’re concerned, you just gave them curdles milk. You know, you gave them sour milk to drink and they would love to get away from that or the anger because you know there is a barrier to them getting the outcome they want.
Dan Hill (32:10):
So it’s really easy to imagine that the person calling in as one of those three expressions or those emotions going on, you should, if you’re good at your job, you should be finding a way to deflate those emotions, move them toward happiness. And if you want a breakthrough moment, look for the surprise. Look for that instance where the eyebrows lift, the eyes go wide. That means you’ve made your breakthrough. So happiness could be just around the corner, thanks to the fact that you found a way to it, to them or give them something that they go, ah, I follow that, I get that, and now I can be happy. Well, I mean, talking about all of this, I mean there’s a lot of frustration in our inability to do this well and a whole lot of surprise when we do have the breakthrough. But we look at emotions in a lot of different ways on our show.
Dan Hill (32:57):
And one of the things that we look at our quotes, hopefully to help us focus and be able to have better outcomes. So is there a quote or two that you like that you can share? You shared several in the book, but bring it up, bring one or two to our audience. What am I favorite from J P Morgan, the banker. Now he put it all in mail terms, but it’s really obviously applies to men and women alike. You said a man makes a decision for two reasons. The good reason and the real reason. And so what we’re talking about here is the real reason because what the breakthroughs in brain science and common sense would tell us is it’s the emotions that clothe and pack the punch in terms of, you know, the real motivation for something taking place. Uh, so that’s absolutely true.
Dan Hill (33:42):
Uh, another one I love is from Oscar Wilde is he said only shallow people don’t judge others based on appearances because there is a wealth of information, again in our face. You’re crazy not to pay attention to it, but what do we do? We scurry off to the answer. It’s almost as if we want to be lied to. Like, Oh yeah, you said the right thing. So I’ll put the check Mark and I’m going to hire you for instance. No, no, no, no. Look for the evidence. Actions speak louder than words. And these little quick micro-expressions in the face are action. Do the words and the emotions go together or to put it in another way, they’ve got speaking points, talking points as they come in to be hired. But are the feeling points matching up? And earlier I mentioned this whole thing about engagement. So another lovely quote, someone said, well, we’re always talking about, sorry, I wasn’t thinking.
Dan Hill (34:36):
How about sorry I wasn’t feeling, because you really don’t want to be around someone who isn’t feeling. Think about, you know one’s personal life. You want to talk to a brick wall? No, you don’t. You want to talk to them in a staff meeting? No, you don’t. Does the person calling into the call center want to talk to a brick wall? No, they don’t. Uh, so it is so important. So there’s three for you. I appreciate that. Okay. So now talking about, you know, this, you know, progression and this journey and all of those things that are associated with getting to the point where we are today and a master’s wealth of expertise is, I’m sure there’s something that you’ve had to get over. I’m sure we can learn a lot by those. Can you share one of those stories? Well, even though I’m a facial coder and I picked up a signal, that doesn’t mean I always practice ECU as well as I wish I could.
Dan Hill (35:25):
So I’m in Toronto and I’m talking to someone, I’m trying to get them to buy our Brocket research services. And there’s always a problem that there’s an incumbent, it’s in politics. So the supplier, so the guy had a system in place already and I had to dislodge it. Well, you have to dislodge things pretty carefully. Most times as a the poet Emily Dickinson said, tell the truth, but tell it slant lest everyone go blind. The straight on attack is much too hard for most people and softer touch. Well, obviously at some point I got pressing a little too hard because what did I get back? Tit for tat. I got the lips pressed together and that telltale bolts below the middle of the lower lip, I spent the rest of the meeting desperately trying to get that expression off his face and assure him that I was a lighter touch and it would be a very reasonable person to interact with.
Dan Hill (36:18):
It did not make a difference. Uh, I never really got a true smile out of the guy, didn’t get anything, even clothes. And I left. I said, that’s it. I said, I can send the followup email, I can send a followup phone call the voicemail I didn’t get in the sale. And that proved to be the case. So sure, I’m, I’m fallible. W we all are it just trying to improve your odds day by day. But I’d give you a counter example if I could. Hopefully. So, um, uh, I was doing some advising work for the university of Minnesota basketball team for Tubby Smith, who’s one of the very few coaches to get to 500 career wins. So the tallest guy on the team, uh, I interviewed everyone at achievement. This guy just floored me because I had a question that I thought was a great interview question that I picked up from a friend of mine in New York, which was, how would your mom describe you?
Dan Hill (37:08):
Because they don’t expect that question. It’s going to be a very revealing question. It’s an interactive question and the guy couldn’t get an answer out of his mouth. Nothing. And I mean, we went 20 seconds. I mean, it was like an eternity before he finally said anything. And he never really gave me an answer. So I said to TBI, have anyone else interviewed you? I mean, so yeah, we have a team psychologist. I said, so what’s going on here? He said, the guy has a really dominant mother and a mouse of a dad and he’s basically traumatized. And I said, well, Toby, that means you’re going to have to interact with him. You know, effectively a softer touch is going to work. Well, Toby sometimes pull that off. Sometimes you don’t want you to victory. Uh, you didn’t get there. And I tried to intervene as delicately as I could.
Dan Hill (37:55):
And then one time I had a great success. They were playing Indiana. They’re the number one team in the country. We are down about six points at half time. Toby’s really pressing them to win, but he’s not giving them encouragement. And by now I’ve taken to calling this guy the scarecrow. So I said to Toby, can I say a few words? He said, okay. So I told him, you’re only six down there. Number one in the country, they have everything to lose. You’re not even the top 20 so if you just keep it close, they’re going to be more scared of losing down the stretch than you are. They got more to lose that this, this game, they’ve got their their ranking and I can see the scarecrow relax and then I can see the scarecrow smile and in the second half we won and the scarecrow twice went in.
Dan Hill (38:40):
The paint went to the basket and stuffed it. You hadn’t done that all season, twice in a row. Second time he did it, my parents were at the game. I turned to my dad, I said, tonight we win. And we did. So you know, did I intervene successfully with Tubby all the time to get him to interact with the scarecrow, right? Not always. The one time I got the chance to take the power into my own hands and I got to an outcome that I think really did help the team. So you know, you cozy things along as you can.
Jim Rembach (39:07):
Well I think you also bring up a really interesting point when we start talking about performance and coaching and managing and leading and in that as leaders to us be more effective, we have to properly interpret, um, we have to properly engage, we have to properly say the right thing so that the environment is created where people motivate themselves. And I think that’s a critical component that I always push back on, is that we can’t motivate people that comes from inside. What we can do is create the right environment. And by you saying what you said, therefore the right environment enabled him to motivate himself to end the paint jam at toys.
Dan Hill (39:46):
Yeah. No, he did some more confidence. He needed some breathing room. A lighter hand on the reins is going to help in this case. So we talked about hiring and you know, that’s, you know, you’re going to make a decision, they’re onboard, they’re not on board. Uh, if you’re talking with the person in the call center, you know, that’s one interaction probably of whatever duration. But it’s also true that if you’re working in the call center, you’ve got a boss and you’ve got colleagues. Are you getting along well with the colleagues? Are they treating you well? Is there rapport? Uh, do people like their, their boss? I, I’ve been brought into situations where I’m working with Salesforce and Salesforce is, they’re often out on their own. It’s can be a lonely job and you hear no a lot. So you really want your boss to have your back and to be supportive and not just saying you didn’t meet your quota, you didn’t meet your quota, it didn’t, but your quota. So that whole atmosphere, that whole team chemistry is really important. And that’s one of the things I look for. And that’s another way in which ECU absolutely applies. In a business context?
Jim Rembach (40:42):
No, most definitely. Okay. So when I start looking at all of this, your body of work and the work that you’re doing is when I start thinking about it, you have some goals that you want to accomplish. Can you share one of those with us?
Dan Hill (40:53):
Um, my next goal is actually to get this out into the world for people and a really practical way. So what I’m about to launch is probably two day training sessions. And it’s not like you’re just going to sit around and do tests for two days. I want them to get it out in the world. So the really fun part of these two days that I’m planning is to say, now we’re going to go to an art museum. I’m going to actually show you portraiture and can you pick out the emotions? And then I’m going to give you the background of the person who was painted and now you’ll get the context of how that person lived their lives and how they interacted with the patron and so forth. Or I might say, we’re going to go to a basketball game tonight. I want you to now facially code just as I did for NBA teams.
Dan Hill (41:33):
I want you to facially code the players on the court and the nature of their interactions. So I’ll give you another story. So for the Timberwolves in this case, way before Kevin Love admitted that he had anxiety disorder. I knew he had it because more than 20% of his emoting was fear. Well, fear has a really implication for how you interact with your teammates. You don’t take any information. Well, when you’re frozen, you just don’t. It’s frozen rope syndrome. There’s ice on the, on the trans mission lines, and that really impacted how the team could develop. So I might take them there. I might take them to a comedy club, specially if it’s a open mic night and say, let’s look at five comedians in a row. Facially code them, look around to see how they make rapport with the audience. We might take you to a theater event, but I want them to get really get out and start to apply it in their lives.
Dan Hill (42:25):
Or it could be in Vegas and say, let’s go around and look at the gamblers. How are they doing? How are they interacting with the people? Who’s the dealer? Uh, the cocktail waitresses, uh, what do they like about what they see in the atmosphere of the place? One casino to another. I want to get them out in the real world and say, this matters and let’s see how it goes. Or even just watch couples interacting in the casino. Or it could be on the streets of New York. So that’s what I think would really be exciting to do. I want to bring this home for people. So a book is a great starting point, but let’s make it part of your experience, your daily experience that you can observe. I want everyone to get to be a Sherlock Holmes. Why not? It’s fun and the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best.
Jim Rembach (43:11):
All right, here we go. Pass little Legion. It’s time for the home. Okay, Dan, the hump day hoedown is a part of our snow where you give us good insights fast. So I’m gonna ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses are gonna help us onward and upward faster. Dan Hill, are you ready to hoedown okay, sure. All right, so what the idea, what I was getting into? No, that’s all right. So what is holding you back from being an even better
Dan Hill (43:40):
later today? I’m not the best listener sometimes. I’m a great observer. I am so oriented toward visuals. Part of that was in Italy. I didn’t know the language, so I didn’t get trained and used to picking up that kind of signal as much as the visuals. So what is the best leadership advice you have ever received? You got to bring people with you. Don’t get them a sense that it’s unfair. I was working for the CEO of a company in the annual employee meetings. He would have people submit the questions in advance and he had thumbed through the cards at the podium deciding which answers he wanted to give. It looked like it was all rigged, all filtered. So I think as a leader, you gotta be able to say, I’m authentic. I’m open, I will take whatever question you give me and I will try to work with it.
Dan Hill (44:27):
As opposed to I’m going to shut you down and just go to the places I’ve already with because that’s, we expect more from a leader quite frankly, and just them getting to stay in their comfort zone. So what is one of your secrets to helps you lead in business or line humor? Uh, I like to hold onto quotes and quips. I gave you three rather quickly earlier. I love the good joke that works for someone. So here’s my favorite of late. So two old people be with a fairy godmother. They can get their, their wish, the wife. And the couple says, well, I’d really like to be able to be safe. We’ll see my grandchildren more often, which granted now the man says, what’s, she says, so what’s your way? She said, well, I’m sorry to say this, but I really wish I could be married to someone who’s 20 years younger and boof, just like that.
Dan Hill (45:14):
He was 90 rather than 70 a good joke. Everyone likes a good joke. I mean, the writer Milan Kundera said, I never met a KGB agent who had a sense of humor. Don’t trust anyone without it. So I think having a sense of humor, it makes you more human. It opens people up. Uh, you know, and I like a good joke. I mean, I love the Marx brothers when I was growing up. And so I think humor is, is a, is a godson for anybody. And what is one of your tools that helps you make life easier? Make life. He’s here. Keep it simple. Simple is smart. Uh, if I go into a meeting or if I’m on TV, uh, you know, it can be crazy. I remember sitting in the green room at, uh, MSNBC and I’m like, no one’s even told me who’s going to be interviewing me.
Dan Hill (46:00):
They haven’t given me the interview questions. They had show me the stimuli. So, you know, it was on a presidential race. So I said, okay, what is the one thing I want to say about each of the two candidates? So wherever they go be, whatever chaos I’m dealing with here, these are the two things I want to get across today and just take it with that and whenever else you get to, great, but don’t imagine you’re going to accomplish everything. Just get to the essentials and what would be one book that you recommend to our Legion? It can be from any genre. Of course, we’re going to put a link to famous faces, decode it on your show notes page as well. My favorite book of all time, it’s actually mrs bridge who was made into a movie with Paul Newman many years ago and it’s about a Kansas city housewife in the 1930s it’s these short little vignettes and you laugh and you laugh.
Dan Hill (46:46):
You laugh until you cry because deep down she’s very lowly, her husband’s working long hours at his job and it has so much humanity for you and it just, it comes to you and the writer has a sense for the little details, the little things that give it away. He’s a really good detective basically, so it is. I had a professor in grad school is the best read guy I’d ever met. And I said to him, what’s the greatest American novel? And I expected him to say Moby Dick or you know, as Scott Fitzgerald, the great Gatsby. And he said, no, no mrs bridge. And I said, you’ve got to be kidding me. I’d never heard of it. And then I went away and I read it again. That’s a really smart professor. So that’s, that’s my tip for the day cause I think it will make you sensitive to dynamics and to people and in in the sweetest way possible.
Jim Rembach (47:34):
Okay. Fast leader Legion. You can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/dan Hill. Okay Dan, this is my last hump. Hold on question. Imagine you’ve been given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you can take the knowledge and skill that skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take them all. You can only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Dan Hill (47:57):
Uh, control the discourse. Uh, you only get ahead in life if you keep track of what you want to accomplish cause that’s going to draw out your inner creative spirit. I mean, that’s what capitalism is based on. The fact that we want to get to our own outcome. I don’t think socialism works actually because you’re just counting on other people getting there for you and that just that just blind to human nature. So you want to control the discourse. I happen to be lucky enough to know Jerome Robinson’s as the choreographer who created West side story. He said, well I started college. I realized it wasn’t for me. I said to myself, who is really great in my field is Balanchine. He said, so I went over to see Balanchine and I said to him, he was 20 years old. He said, Balanchine, I love you.
Dan Hill (48:41):
I love your work. I love dance. Put me to work in any way you want. I just want to be close to your genius. I’ll get Balanchine not help it be flattered. And, uh, he stayed with the company and he eventually proved himself to be a, a dance master himself. So I really think you want to figure out where you can take yourself that best brings all of your talent to life and you see them that the longer you stay with a system and just think the system is fine and going to provide for you. I just don’t think that’s a strong, uh, you know, maybe you could join forces in that system, but to just let the system bring it to you. Nah,
Jim Rembach (49:16):
Dan, I had fun with you today. How can the faster Legion connect with you?
Dan Hill (49:20):
Uh, well obviously I have LinkedIn like everybody does seemingly. I have a blog series called faces of the week where I’m looking at things that are in the news and that’s a fun way to connect in. Uh, my email is dHill@sensorylogic.com. I absolutely don’t mind. I respond to all my emails. Some people don’t, but I do. I’m very conscientious that way. So that’s at least three places for you, the blog, the LinkedIn, and my email itself.
Jim Rembach (49:46):
Dan Hill. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The fast leader Legion honors you, and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Thank you for joining me on the fast leader show today. For recap, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe. If you haven’t already, head on over fast leader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.