Practical Applications for Nonverbal Intelligence and Emotional Indicators of Facial Denting

By David M. Schneer, Ph.D./CEO

3-Minute Read

One of Steve Jobs’ most memorable quotes was this: “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why else even be here?

While Mr. Jobs certainly made a dent in the universe, the rest of us are more likely to make a dent in our face. That’s right. It’s called facial denting, and it looks like this:

Or this, a more severe form of facial denting.

Source: Psychology Today

Why do we do it? It’s a form of stress relief during particularly trying times. Sometimes people will dent their faces with objects, like pens, pencils, or the temple tips of their glasses—just about anything. This is a visible sign of pacification. Writes body language expert and ex-FBI profiler Joe Navarro, “By pushing in our faces, it stimulates nerves on the face, in the facial muscles, and in the mouth which serves to pacify or soothe us psychologically.” [1]

Do not ignore signs of facial denting as they are a very reliable sign that stressors are present.

A Telltale Sign of Stress.

At Merrill Research, we see indications of facial denting in qualitative studies when someone is expressing doubt or concern about a product or concept to which they have been exposed. It is a clue that something is just not right. And when we see this behavior, it is always an opportunity to probe and learn more. For example, if you see this tell, then you might ask the listener if they have concerns or if anything is bothering them.

All things considered, it is better to make a dent in the universe than in one’s face.

Contact us today to see how we can help you or your organization become proficient at finding out what people are really thinking when they communicate with you. 

Most Communication is Nonverbal. Are You Fluent?

  1. Navarro, Joe; Karlins, Marvin. What Every BODY is Saying. William Morrow Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.