How do young people, school leavers, and those who have completed post-secondary school education figure out what they want to do as a career? How do they succeed in the interviews for the job they want? And how can they learn some of the people skills to help them succeed in their workplace?
There is an interesting skill that may help. Internationally recognized facial profiling authority, Alan Stevens spoke to the Learning Capacity Podcast and discussed the course he has developed for school leavers transitioning to work. And he explains why the Pinocchio nose story may not be totally fictitious.
Listen to the podcast:
- Pinocchio’s “growing nose” story
- Career choices for secondary students
- Facial trait profiling
- Facial micro-expressions
- Neuro Linguistic Programming
- Career assessment tools (Strengths Finder, Myers-Briggs, DISC)
People & organisations mentioned
- The Disney organisation
- The Face: How to get your ideal career to match your personality (e-book)
- Facial Profiling Basics for Workplace Skills (online course)
If you would like to read the complete podcast transcript, here it is:
Episode 91 of The Learning Capacity Podcast
Pinocchio, Facial Profiling & Workplace Skills: Alan Stevens
Peter Barnes: How do young people, school leavers, and those who have completed post-secondary school education figure out what they want to do as a career? And how do they succeed in the interviews for the job they want? Internationally recognized facial profiling authority, Alan Stevens, has written a book that can help. It's called The Face: How to get your ideal career to match your personality. It's written for secondary school students, their parents, and teachers, and introduced the advantages of being able to read human facial traits and how they relate to career selection.
Peter Barnes: Today Alan joins me again on The Learning Capacity Podcast where we'll talk about his book and how facial profiling can help guide people into good career choices. Welcome back Alan.
Alan Stevens: Thank you very much Peter. It's great to be here.
Peter Barnes: Terrific. Last time we chatted on the podcast you explained facial trait profiling and you gave us some background on how you came to become an authority in this area. So for our listeners who may have missed that episode can you briefly summarize those points and then we can move on to talk about how to use facial trait profiling in career selection.
Alan Stevens: Okay well the skills of reading somebody involve the facial features that tell us someone's personality, then we have the micro-expressions, the little twitches on the face, that tell us how somebody thinks and processes, and we have body language that tell us more information again and it depends on how we've read them then we know what words to use to actually make that connection with them and that's what the process is all about.
Peter Barnes: Okay. So you've been doing this for quite some time I believe?
Alan Stevens: That's right. Well I started with NLP and body language back in the eighties and then more into the nineties. I did psychometric profiling where you ask people questions to understand their personalities. And then I took up looking at the facial features and facial expressions when somebody mentioned to me one day, have you ever looked at reading faces, and I thought well I needed a better way than what I had before to read people and I went and did some research on it and found it to be the most effective method I could use.
Peter Barnes: Right. So I understand that people all over the world are using what you've developed and it's being used in places as diverse as law enforcement agencies and cartoon makers like Disney, can you tell us a bit about that?
Relationships are the foundation of everything we do
Alan Stevens: Well especially when it comes down to it, relationships are the foundation of everything we do, the very footings of everything. So if we don't have a strong relationship with somebody then we just can't make a connection with them because people only deal with us when they buy a product, a service, or just have a relationship with us.
They've got to like, know and trust us. If they don't trust then there's not much chance of them respecting us and there's not much chance of having a connection with them. So it fits every area of life and where I've been working with is, as you said, law enforcement, how to actually read the clients as they call them but also how to build stronger rapport and understanding amongst their teams. And same skills that I use for parents to understand their children, or for couples to understand each other as well, to build stronger relationships. So it's all aspects of life.
Peter Barnes: And those skills are appropriate, in fact essential, in the workplace.
Alan Stevens: Exactly because one of the biggest problems we have at the moment about 87% of people we're told by all the research who are disengaged in their work. In other words, they don't want to be there on Monday.
If they're not happy in their work they're obviously not going to be happy at home because they're taking their emotions with them between work and back home again, they're not productive in the workplace so their performance drops and therefore the management's making less money, and it's one of the areas that I'm quite surprised that more organizations don't get their people trained on because it's the difference between making a successful business or losing money out the door.
Peter Barnes: So there's multiple factors in employee dissatisfaction. One, of course, is you're in the wrong job to start with, so that's about career selection. Another one is how you relate and work with your colleagues, and both of those areas I believe are targets of your book.
Understand your own personality to select a career
Alan Stevens: That's right. So it's for school leavers to have an idea actually before they left school to know what subjects they should be doing that match the careers that would benefit their personalities. So the more that somebody is doing something that they like the happier they are going to be and the more productive they are going to be and therefore likely to select a career that suits them best.
One of the biggest problems is we make our selections when we're at school on what other people tell us we should do and quite often the careers counsellor is telling us, "well your good at maths", but one of the things they forgot about was that you were bad at maths and they kept you back all the time to get your results up and because all of a sudden your result's good now you should become an accountant when it's probably not what you want to do.
The more you can understand your own personality the more you can actually then select the career that's going to suit you and therefore pick the final subject before you leave school.
Peter Barnes: Really it would be fantastic if young people can get insights at that stage. I recall just a personal story, my father wanted me to be a pharmacist and then when I rejected that idea he wanted me to become an accountant which I did for a few years and took me a decade or two to realize that that wasn't something that suited my personality. I could have saved quite a lot of time if I'd had some systematic approach to understanding what would be a suitable career.
Alan Stevens: That's one of the biggest problems that so many kids have. Most students, they're leaving school, right about 80% they estimate have no idea what they really want to do.
They've taken their advice from other people and the end result with that is they then go into a career, especially if they go on to TAFE or university, they end up doing study, getting a degree that they either don't get through or if they do end up going into the workplace and either never using it, they say about 40% of the people who do a degree don't even use that degree, and then if they go into the work that the degree was for the end result is that they don't stay there for very long because it's not the job that's going to match their personalities. They're not happy.
Strengths Finder, Myers Briggs, DISC, Facial Profiling
Peter Barnes: There are a number of ways that students and young people can get a fix on what might be a suitable career. Some schools have career counsellors, there are private career counsellors that parents with the means can send their children to, and those professionals use a range of tools like Strengths Finder, Myers-Briggs, DISC, and so forth. How does rapid trait profiling fit with those approaches?
Alan Stevens: Okay. Well that's what I would say to everybody, that all the different systems have their place. When it comes to somebody applying for a job they're usually doing it online, there's usually a lot of people who have applied for the same position and you might have 100 people apply for one or two single positions.
And in that the end result is you haven't got time to look at everyone's faces, you have to put them to a process that handles the numbers, and that's where these other systems really benefit. Whereas with facial reading, once you've selected that person you can confirm that you have the right person when you have them in the interview because you're able to read them more effectively.
The difference with reading someone's face, I don't have to ask questions therefore I'm not affected by gender, I'm not affected by age, I'm not affected by the level of education and I'm not affected by the person's emotional state and because the method in which I use to read people is based on the structure of the face, my emotions when I read them don't get in the way either.
Because if you're using a system that looks at somebody's behaviour you're not trying to work them out from there the end result is if you're having a good day or a bad day you're going to read that same person differently.
Peter Barnes: I can understand why that would work. That would be very useful for someone recruiting people. How about the student themselves trying to figure out what they want to do? If they had Myers-Briggs or use a strengths approach or some sort of counseling like that how does rapid trait profiling give them something extra?
Alan Stevens: It give them a chance to break down that profile they've been given because when you're putting somebody through those systems, like Myers-Briggs you've got about 16 different types which mean we have 7 billion people on the planet and those 7 billion people are divided up into 16 types. I don't think so.
When you look at it that's just a broad way of putting people into boxes. But then being able to look at the facial features you're able to take that person out of the box. So the more a person understands their own traits, the more they are able to then piece together their own personality which is unique from everybody else on the planet and therefore be able to fine tune their job selection down to something that uniquely fits them.
Peter Barnes: And your book, The Face: How to get your ideal career to match your personality, describes a number of these facial traits that students or young people can use to help figure out their careers and help be successful in interviews and then help be successful in the workplace?
60 Facial Traits in someone of school leaving age
Alan Stevens: When you're using the book what you're doing you're looking at a number of traits. SO I put it together with, because I'm looking at a little over 60 traits in The Face, but of those there is a number that you will see in a newborn child and by the time they're five there will be some more coming in. So eventually what you have is about 24 traits you can see in a five year old, there's about 40 traits you can see in a ten year old, and there's about 60 traits you can see in somebody about school leaving age.
So with this I took a third of the traits from each of those categories and put them into the book so that when you read it you can look at the trait and understand that trait yourself, you can get a measurement on it yourself. It then tells you how those people with those traits like to think and process information, how they like to be spoken to, but it also gives an idea of some of the hobbies, sports, and careers that would suit those people.
Now once you've gone through it and you've looked at your own traits and you realize what's there and you go, okay here's a number of traits that have all said teacher then there's a possible career for that person, but there's also traits that says physical outdoor activities, now you could be specifying a teacher who is more in to the physical education. So you can build more and more of the understanding the more that you're able to pick up more traits and you build a much more defined level.
Peter Barnes: How is it possible for a face to give all that sort of information?
How do micro-expressions work?
Alan Stevens: Some people think this is clairvoyance or whatever. No it's not, it's pure science. We know that everything that we feel inside we display on the outside. That's how the micro-expressions work. This is how we can determine whether somebody is angry, what was their immediate response when we speak to them, but we also know that any muscle that we use over and over like say you're doing bicep curls, you will build your biceps up and the more you do that you'll see that the growth is there but you may not work your triceps so you'll see an imbalance in the muscles.
So we know that anybody who has worked out regularly, you can see that they're fit. So put those two together. When you're concentrating on something the end result is that you will focus in, you will pull the eyes, you'll focus down, the brow will come down, and what you're doing is moving the muscles. And if you keep moving those muscles over and over again in relationship to the way you like to think and process you're going to build ridges and crevices that will give away the history of how you like to think and process which is your personality. And that's how it works.
Nature and Nurture
Peter Barnes: So what you're saying is the face then records the history, let's say, or the build up of your emotions and how you react to certain situations and if you know what to look for you can interpret those expressions. And the shape of the face, are we talking about the shape of the face as well as expressions here?
Alan Stevens: The shape of the face as well because we know that in all of the research that was done we have nature and nurture traits. The nature being the DNA that was passed down from the parents and the nurture which is in response to our environments.
All of the testing they did, and they did at one major study was the Texas adoption trials, it was run over 30 years where they would profile children who had been taken away from their natural parents and been adopted by others. They knew the biological parents, they looked at the profile of the adopted child and they looked at the profile of the adopted parents and also their natural parents and they found out that there was so many traits of the biological parents which were in the children that weren't in the adopted parents.
So we knew that part of the personality was DNA based and then we knew that how you respond to your environment, if you frown a lot because you expect problems all the time, you're going through an unhappy time, the corner of your mouth is going to turn down because those muscles down below get stronger and the ones above get weaker so they get stretched down, they get pulled down by the lower muscles in the face, and so now people assume that this person is more likely to be pessimistic than optimistic.
So this is how the nurture and the nature works together. And so what the percentage break up is well that depends on person to person, it depends on all the experience that we have. It's like we know that twins that are identical, if they go to different parents there will be certain personality traits which are still the same but there will be slight changes which is the nurture traits from the different households they go to and therefore the different experiences they have.
Peter Barnes: In that case can you tell, say they're identical and they're brought up in different environments, so they've got the same nature but different environmental influences, can you see differences in the face for those two?
Alan Stevens: You'll find that say the DNA ones will be pretty much the same like the width of the face, the spacing of the eyes, and things like that. But the muscle structure on the face, the width of the lower part of the face which is all muscular, not skeletal, all of that will be different between the two children because they've actually had different experiences.
One lived in a household where there was a lot of unhappiness, another one lived in a household where there was a lot of joy and just that first trait that I explained, the turning of the corner of the mouth, that will be different between the two of them because one has been frowning a lot more and the other has been smiling more.
Peter Barnes: This must be, the facial expressions must be why when you meet a new person, and I think this is a fairly universal reaction, you can tell whether you like that person or not, there's something that unconsciously you go, ah I've just met Alan, yeah I like him I want to talk to him, or I've just met him and I don't think he's person that I really want to hang out with. Is that what-
Alan Stevens: Yes. This is actually wired into the DNA. This goes back to our original survivor. We needed facial features and facial expressions. First of all facial features to recognize somebody and then the facial expressions to understand their emotions at the time, their moods. So if we saw a face that we recognized was a family member or a tribe member, fine, then we'd be looking for the expression to see if they were happy or sad, what was their emotional state, how should I approach them.
If it was a face that we didn't recognize we'd be more wary, we'd be checking them out to make sure, to see if they were a danger and that's when the micro-expressions of facial features, some of the expressions, become even more important. So you can't get one working without the other. These two systems work brilliantly together, they support each other, they confirm each other.
Peter Barnes: And then I guess if you overlook sort of gross motor, like someone who's got their arms raised or someone who's just sitting with their arms crossed, those body language things mean something as well, don't they?
Alan Stevens: That's right. You add all that to it. It's a combination of all those things. As I say the facial features will tell me a person's personality, that will tell me how they like to think and process, it doesn't tell me what they're thinking and processing though.
So two people can look very similar and as I say one could be a saint, one could be a sinner, but then I'm looking at the body language and the expressions and it's not just one thing on its own like, as you indicated, folded arms. Folded arms, yes, that could be a barrier to keep me out, it could be a barrier that they're intimidated, they like me but they're still intimidated, put me on a pedestal, or it could be that they're cold. It could be a whole range of reasons so you need to look at all of those things in context. Are they congruent with what's being said at the time?
And making sure that you look at them in clusters. How do they connect? If you get one trait that's telling or one expression or one body language that's telling you one thing you're looking to see what the others are telling you as well. And do they line up and connect?
So if I look at your facial features and that tells me how you like to think and process I'll then talk to you in the way that you need to be spoken to, I'm never arrogant enough to go, hey I've got you even though I've profiled tens of thousands of people.
What I will do is I will talk to you and I will watch the body language and expressions that come back to just see how well I've read you but if I can see your facial features and I know these features so well but definitely this is the way that you should be acting but you're acting some other way now the combination of all those tells me that something's going on.
It could be that you're stressed, there's some emotional stuff happening or it could be that you're definitely the wrong person I should be getting right away from, it could be a con artist for instance, or somebody who's dangerous, hiding something.
Peter Barnes: Right. If I'm a young person trying to figure out what I'm going to do for the next period of my life, a career in other words, how would they use your book? How do they figure this out?
Alan Stevens: As I said, the book has all those traits in it. It shows them how to read the trait, which means getting in front of a mirror or I don't know any young person who doesn't have a mobile phone these days so get the camera on so it's a selfie mode and have a look at it and profile yourself.
And have a look at those traits and then go through and understand it. I always say just remember that no one trait defines you, it's a combination of all the traits together. So one trait might be really strong but the next trait might moderate it a bit and another trait might moderate it further.
So when you read it understand that this is what each of the traits mean but read all of them, profile yourself on each of those, and then go, hey how do they work together. But the book also tells you, as I said, the type of careers that will fit that person.
Now, the biggest problem that we've got these days is that we've got a job guide with over 1500 jobs in it and they give that to a student and they go, right go find a job. Well, it's like the white telephone directory, nobody's going to read it. But if you were able to, if you were a counselor or somebody who had these skills, like a teacher, read the child and went well, here's a couple careers that may suit your personality and here's the job guide, the job guide now becomes a yellow pages and the child then is able to go through that.
They've been given some direction, they've got a starting point so you can get them moving, but you're also putting them in a position where they make their own decisions as well so they take ownership of this and so that when they've selected a career they're more confident with it, when they go in to their final studied for it.
Peter Barnes: Okay, I can understand how this can be valuable in career choice but it sounds quite complicated, is it possible for a young person to read your book and get enough information to make some decision or choices at least, or are there other ways they can access this information? Do you have courses, do you have workshops?
IQ gets you there and EQ keeps you there
Alan Stevens: We just put together a course for school leavers right now. It's called Facial Profiling Basics for Workplace Skills. And what it's about is for a students to be able to look at least eight of the major traits, the ones that are required for building a rapport because we know that they'll spend 13 years at school or they'll go into college or they'll go into university and spend further years there to get a degree for a particular career, that will get them through the door for the interview if they've got high marks but it won't keep them on the other side of the door.
What keeps them on the other side is the emotional intelligence, the ability to read other people and connect with them. So as I say the IQ will get you there but the EQ will then keep you there.
And so in that if they understand how to actually read somebody else as well, say the interviewer, they know then how to speak to the interviewer because the interviewer is more of a big picture person and let's face it this student might be a little bit nervous but is also an analytical type person, in other words a person who needs a lot more information than the big picture person who really just wants the overview.
And they start talking to the interviewer, giving them information and they're waffling on, they're going to lose that connection with the interviewer. Or if it's the other way around, the interviewer is more analytical, he wants more information and the student is more big picture, they're not going to give enough information and therefore the person interviewing them is going to go, what's going on here, and not trust them.
So it's about the connection you make with the interviewer to start with as to whether you're going to get selected for the job but then after that, once you've got the job, again, being able to read people you're able to build better connections in the workplace so it's a much more enjoyable place to stay.
So it's a little bit funny to me that we spend 13 years to get a piece of paper that we have the one momentary shot at getting a job but then we can spend a small amount of time learning a skill that will take us through the rest of our career and the rest of our life.
Peter Barnes: It is a bit bizarre when you think of it like that.
Alan Stevens: When you put the being able to read people together with the qualification you spent the 13 years to get the end result is it balances out and so-
Peter Barnes: Your course is an online course then is it?
Alan Stevens: That's right. It's been designed so that it's in modular form. It means that a student can sit down and spend say 15 minutes on a video. They can listen through that and watch it and then they can go away and practically read themselves and practice reading other people.
And they can either sit down and do it all probably with the course in about three hours or so, or spread it out, do a little bit each day. As I say, that's a good way to do it when you do a little bit each day. You do one trait, go out, practice it, look at other people, and get your real understanding around that trait, then you add the next trait to it.
Pinocchio and his nose that grew
Peter Barnes: Fascinating. I’m going to ask you how someone would get your book and the course but before I do that, just one thing that we were talking about before we started recording this, is the story of Pinocchio and his nose that grew.
Alan Stevens: Well it's one of the stories which is quite true. The nose grows but not in a way that we actually see the size of it grow because the growth is internal. The nose itself has what we call erectile tissue. It inflames with blood under certain conditions and swells up closing up the passageway. Now everything that we do in life, by the way, has a thermomic indicator, heat goes to different parts of the body when we do different things, it's like if you concentrate really deeply your face cools, but if you're feeling anxious the face gets hot, there's more blood there.
And what happens in the nose is that we actually, when a person's lying there's that anxiety that goes with it, the erectile tissue in our nose inflames and that has a direct connection to the surface skin and so we don't actually see the nose grow in size but we see people starting to itch and scratch because it's a really strong sensation.
Alan Stevens: The thing is though if you're looking at anybody and they're scratching their nose don't rush into it and say oh they're lying, if they've got a cold it's the same thing because this is why the erectile tissue is there. When we breathe we breathe through both nostrils but at one moment one nostril takes the bulk of the air and the other one is actually closed off and the reason there is to actually get that airflow to actually spiral through the nose and it throws out any of the impurities in the air into the outside skin and the hairs there that actually catch it.
And then our automatic system cut off that, changes it to the other side so it's there to keep us healthy, it's part of our immune system. But it also has the effect that when we're lying it also inflames there.
Peter Barnes: So the story of Pinocchio then has his nose grew with each lie he told has some basis in truth you tell us?
Alan Stevens: The real truth would have been that he would have been itching more and more. And I think it was President Clinton, when they questioned him about his affairs he scratched his nose I think it was about 26 times in one minute.
So it was a definite giveaway that something was going on. If those nose is really itchy and then you change the conversation to everything else and they're no longer itching, taking the conversation back to where you were before and see if they start itching again it'd be a good idea that, yeah the fear and anxiety has increased and that erectile tissue is then inflamed and you feel that blood across the nose and right up between the eyes as well.
Peter Barnes: What you've got to offer here sounds very useful for people of all ages and particularly for young people trying to figure out their place in the world. So let's finish up with asking you to tell us where they can get your book and get your course?
Alan Stevens: Well the book you can get from Amazon and you can also get it from Google Play. And the online course you can get that through the link below. Or just go straight to my website which is alanstevens.com.au. If they then just put in the /courses then that will take them straight to the training platform where they'll see all the courses there including the new one for facial profiling basics for the workplace skills and that's the one for the students.
Peter Barnes: Terrific. Alan, thank you very much for your time today, it's been fascinating and I'm sure there's some real value in there for young people trying to figure out what they want to do as a career.
Get the online course: Facial Profiling Basics for Workplace Skills