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6 Visual Communication Tips – Watch the Eyebrows


“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw

To offer an exceptional product or service is one thing, to communicate effectively about it is another. Just as a tailor takes careful measurements before making a suit so should we take into account the personality and behaviour style of our potential (and current) clients. No matter what our product or service offers we can be sure we’re competing with someone or something else. There will be several considerations for the client and understanding not just their priorities but their perspective will help give us an edge.

Recent research at the University of York into the role of eyebrows in human development indicates their primary role has been in communication. We use various movements of the eyebrows to express feelings and responses such as surprise, openness to engaging, sympathy and a great deal more. It isn’t only those movements which transmit signals as static eyebrows also provide a great deal of information. In particular they tell about how we receive and process information, how we engage with others and our approach to work. Here are 6 examples to be aware of when you want to ensure you get your message across to best effect:

The Unibrow

Ronnie O'Sullivan eyebrows 1

The Unibrow indicates a very busy mind. Those possessed of one are likely to be emotionally cautious and slow to trust. When dealing with them be patient and consistent, and be prepared for lots of questions. Be sure to follow through on all agreements as they will remember any instance where they have been let down, and they tend to be slow to forgive. They may also have very definite opinions so be prepared to have a number of meetings before you see any signs of progress.

Overhanging Eyebrows

MittRomney eyebrows

Eyebrows sitting close to the eyes are a sign of a mind which reacts quickly, even impatiently. They’re often likely to interrupt before you’ve finished speaking, and are not always diplomatic! Be prepared for questions which may not relate directly to your offering, and to direct the conversation back to its central theme – you may need to do this frequently. Above all be clear and speak fast as slow rambling speech will cause them to lose interest swiftly. Note that if the eyebrows move downwards towards the eyes while you are speaking the other party has stopped listening and is preoccupied with what they want to say. Be alert for this signal!

Inverted V

Larry_Ellison_eyebrows picture

The inverted or upside down V, or the eyebrow angled downwards towards the inner corner of the eye is a sign of an autocratic nature. These people expect to be in charge, and expect their instructions to be carried out as directed. Patience is not their strong point. When dealing with them be sure you are thoroughly prepared. Even when you are they may well point out flaws in your proposition, and do so in a very direct manner. Either way you may expect a quick decision as they have no time for prevarication. Be sure to do a thorough background check on how others have dealt successfully with them in the past.

Straight Eyebrows

Bill Gates eyebrows 1

When the main body of the eyebrow is quite straight we can tell that this individual has an analytical mind. When speaking to them all information should be presented in a logical and structured fashion. Details are important to them and they have little interest in ‘touchy feely’ unless they can see practical application. The thicker the eyebrow the more information they will comfortably absorb at one time.

Upright Hairs

BradPitt eyebrows crop

A cluster of upright hairs at the beginning of the eyebrows tells us this is someone who will quickly spot the potential problems in a new proposition or project, and is likely to point them out. They can be invaluable to have around if you want an honest verdict before taking your product or service to market. Your ego may not like it but their input is invariably practical.

Curved Eyebrows

Julia_Louis-Dreyfus_eyebrows VF_2012_Shankbone_3

Curved eyebrows reflect a more person oriented outlook. This is a time for demonstrating so called ‘soft skills’ such as empathy. Showing that you are genuinely interested in them and their viewpoint will at least open the door to a meaningful discussion. Take time, avoid being pushy and allow trust to build.

I’m frequently asked about women tweaking or treating their eyebrows and how that impacts on what I see. Any cosmetic alteration is seen as an external manifestation of a desire for internal change. We can often see where the changes have been made as well as the results. Even simply seeing the results reveals the aspirations, and the eyes themselves tell whether those aspirations have been met.

Studies have shown that those repeatedly using Botox are not only less expressive in their features but also tend to be less willing to engage on a deeper level. Food for thought!

Joseph McGuire is the owner of Clearsight Communications who provide personal evaluation services and training in the areas of senior level recruitment/promotion, negotiations, sales and HR. Individual consultation sessions are available both in person and via Skype. He is also in demand for group presentations, private functions and conferences. For further information email: