A smile is one of the most positive and powerful things you can do for yourself when you find yourself in the company of others. It’s free to use, and it sends a message to other people that you’re approachable, your mood is favourable and it can often transfer to other people you interact with, making your interaction with others likewise positive. Wow! All that from a smile!
The lack of a smile can produce the opposite too. Your lack of a smile can communicate that you’re all business; maybe even a little cold or impersonal. It can send the message that you’re not approachable, your mood is not good, and those you interact with may feel guarded when dealing with you.
Think for a moment of people you interact with often; perhaps your co-workers if you have them. If you’re not employed, think perhaps on someone you see fairly often. Now picture if you can whether they smile often or not, and then consider whether you general consider the interaction you have with them positive or not. My guess is that you generally associate smiling faces with more positive interactions, and the less frequent the smile, the cooler the interaction. Am I right?
Now picture yourself out shopping, at the bank or returning an item to a customer service area. You’re in line awaiting your turn and if you’re like me, you’ve probably looked ahead at the possible people you might interact with and hoped it’s a certain person over the others. I know when I’m standing in a line, I always do this instinctively, and I’ve noticed I usually hope for the man or woman sporting a smile. I just assume my experience is going to be more positive because they’ll make it so; theirs is a cheerful face to start with and hence our interaction will get off to a good start too.
Now employers know the power of a smile. Look at job postings; specifically in the introductions where they describe the role and not the hard-core qualifications. You might see phrases like, “If you’re a people-person”, or “If you’re passionate about providing guests and customers with outstanding service”. These phrases are put in job postings to alert readers to jobs that will match the right person with what’s to follow. These employers are saying that they are really interested in finding people who will derive immense joy and satisfaction from the high level of interaction you’ll be exposed to. They want people who will come to work energized by that interaction and so find themselves in a good mood; your smile is your visual display of that good mood, positive energy and passion you feel.
We don’t all speak the same language, nor do we experience many things in the same way when we’re from different cultures with different values, etc., but the one thing that is universally understood is the power and effect of the smile.
Now of course, many people don’t smile by nature. It’s not that they are unhappy or cold, it’s just that their resting face tends to have the ends of their mouth droop downwards instead of up or horizontal. It takes these people considerable effort to remember to smile, and the effort is hard to sustain. Consequently, they seem less approachable or maybe overly serious. What’s more, these people are well aware of this themselves from the many people over the years who say, “You look so serious. Anything wrong?” or, “It wouldn’t hurt you to smile a little.” Believe me, you’re not telling them something they don’t already know. For them unfortunately, smiling is a lot of work.
A smile can often be hard to come up with too when you find yourself in a situation that you find stressful. A job interview comes to mind. You’re sitting in reception feeling nervous and trying to remember all you can about the company you’re applying to. You’ve done your homework but are nervous because first impressions mean so much. You’re mentally going through possible questions, what you want to be sure to mention, going over that one challenging thing you expect and then you’re interrupted when you hear your name called. Smiling at this moment means everything, but it might be hard to produce and sustain because the pressure or strain you might feel would seem to call for a serious expression.
Smiles are so important. They can light up a room, and in many cases, it’s the smile that has a ripple effect on the rest of your face. It can make your cheeks glow, your eyes shine a little brighter or twinkle, and completely captivate your audience.
Okay so consider this. When you’re in an interview – typically a stressful thing for many, consider smiling when you recall something pleasant. So if you’re giving an example of your customer service skills and recall interacting with someone whom you had a positive experience with, smile as you recall the moment. it will translate positively and communicate to the person listening that you are positively affected when you deal with others. This is the kind of thing that employers are looking for isn’t it? People who enjoy working for and with others.
So I urge you to smile today; think about it consciously as you go about your day and see if you can put a smile on others faces just by showing your own.