01/11/2015 06:53 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2015

Personal Image: Positive and Negative Signals

When dealing with other people, it's important to be able to read their expressions. But it's just as important to understand what your facial expressions may be saying to others. Emily Post has it right: "Your outward appearance is not only an important aspect of how you present yourself -- it reflects the importance you attach to the situations and people around you. This applies not just to the clothes you wear and the language you use in conversation, but the signals your facial expressions send to the people you interact with."

Remember: You are your most important asset. Perception is reality when it comes to personal image. Here is a guide on how to avoid sending negative signals and how to send positive ones instead:

Negative Signals

• Raising both eyebrows signals surprise

• Raising one eyebrow indicates skepticism

• Wrinkling the nose shows displeasure

• Dropping the jaw shows astonishment

• Keeping a fixed or frozen facial expression indicates disinterest or disapproval

• Frowning indicates displeasure

• Clenching the jaw signals aggression

Positive Signals

• Smiling when being introduced and during conversation

• Shaking hands briefly but firmly when being introduced

• Maintaining eye contact when in conversation with someone

• Keeping your face relaxed during conversation

• Nodding the head in agreement

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and