Recently, emotional intelligence has become the big new idea in the world of management theory. Managers were once trained to have the demeanour of sergeant majors: now it's all about getting in touch with your feelings and those of the people you manage.
Dan Hill's book, called Emotionomics, seeks to show managers how they can capitalise on this to improve their management skills. Hill claims to be able to penetrate people's minds using "facial coding", which studies facial muscles to get to the heart of their true emotions.
How does emotionomics work in practice? How can you tell whether the person who claims to agree wholeheartedly with your cost-cutting measures really means it? What, for example, are the tell-tale differences between a true and a false smile? Hill says that with a true smile the skin near the outer corner of the eye pinches together into "crow's feet", and the corners of the mouth move up and out, with the cheeks lifting outwards. A false smile, however, doesn't involve the whole face, so the cheeks will lie flat and still and the eyes won't narrow. So next time you find someone nodding energetically in agreement, look closely to see the nature of that smile.
- Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today