Zoe, with her thunderous face of disgust that we saw on many occasions over the past nine weeks, failed to worm her way out of what was a woeful team performance last night, and she became the latest casualty in The Apprentice 2011.

Stern-faced Zoe’s exit, however, was surprising when you consider the fact that Tom survived once again, despite more damp decision-making and shameless efforts to just sink into the background when times were tough. You can’t get away with it forever.

Did Zoe go because she couldn’t disguise her feelings, as well as the others? It has to be said that her default expression throughout the series has had something to do with lemons and sucking.

But it’s an interesting point – how accurate are facial expressions? Can they be misread, or do they in fact provide an insight into an individual’s true feelings about the behaviour of another?

Throughout the series, I have watched how the camera picks up the ‘wincing’, ‘bemused’, ‘puzzled’, ‘dismayed’ facial expressions of Karren Brady, Nick Hewer and the candidates, when someone does, or says something which they disagree with. Clever editing to entertain in parts, but it raises a decent workplace issue. How much do we know about the thoughts and feelings of those we work with?

Giving and receiving feedback is a competence that is vitally important personally and professionally. Individuals may model themselves on the feedback they have received from their colleagues, line-managers, and family members. Feedback carried out skilfully is extremely constructive, and can help an individual learn about themselves, and the effects of their behaviour.  It can provide them with an opportunity to change, and certainly can help avoid confrontations, borne out of ‘putting up’ with inappropriate behaviour.

When individuals or groups acquiesce or tolerate inappropriate behaviour, it is more than likely to ‘erupt’ when least expected. However, the viewer has come to expect to see candidates ‘erupt’ when they fight not to be fired. We come to expect to see blame, personal attacks and criticism – what we don’t see are effective communicating behaviours, where individuals know how to give and receive feedback.<

Feedback is not about passing judgement, or indeed commenting on someone’s personality; neither is it about admonishing or destroying someone else. When feedback is carried out effectively, it is a gift, and contributes to an individual’s learning experiences and personal and professional growth.
Karen Murphy
Muika Leadership – Developing Leadership