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Smile! It can have a more powerful effect in ways you might not even realize.
Try something: walk around your workplace, #smiling, and see who smiles back at you. Not everyone, right?
How do you feel about these people? Miserable b*****ds, I guess. So when you’re not smiling, do people think the same of you? You bet they do. This is the first reason to smile.
1. Smiling indicates to other people that you are approachable. A smile breaks the ice. A smile is an indicator that you are not hostile and welcome interaction. A smile is free to give and has immeasurable value.
But when we face someone for the first time who is not smiling, a lot of stuff goes on in our heads. We may think that this person is aloof, arrogant or uninterested. We might begin to feel self-conscious or nervous, and immediately draw conclusions that we don’t meet expectations.
When in fact the truth might be the opposite – the other person could be nervous, shy or intimidated by you. But how are we to know?
A genuine smile says everything we need to know that we’re welcome, and doing fine. The same applies to the people we meet. We can put other people at ease, show them we are interested and that we are receptive – just with a smile.
When we meet new co-workers, a smile is especially important. If you meet a colleague for the first time, and introduces him/herself with a face liked a slapped ass, it doesn’t create a congenial environment. The Power of the Smile sets off new working relationships on the right foot.
2. Smiling lifts the mood of others. You might have heard the phrase “smile – it’s contagious.” Well there is a lot of truth in that. When you look at someone smiling, it’s hard not to want to smile back, unless you’re in the foulest of moods or deepest depths of sadness. When you smile, you’re doing the same for other people.
Researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden conducted experiments where they showed various pictures of different facial expressions to their research subjects and found that we cannot control completely our facial muscles, and that a smile forms when we look at people smiling, even when we try not to.
3. Smiling can put YOU in a better mood. Scientists from the University of Mannheim in Germany conducted some experiments to prove that smiling, even fake smiling, can put you in a better mood.
I tried this experiment out too. I grinned for a whole hour, and discovered that my cheeks hurt – but I did feel better for it!
In fact studies over the years have shown that a smile can lift our own moods – this isn’t new knowledge. Something to do with endorphins – the ‘happy hormones’.
Have you tried it out when you’re feeling a little down? OK – you don’t need to grin like the Cheshire Cat for an hour like I did – but you could read a favorite cartoonist or watch a funny clip on YouTube. Put this research to the test (what have you got to lose, other than sore cheeks?)
4. Smiling can get you a job. Research by Levine and Feldman, published in Applied H.R.M. Research, showed that smiling and other positive #body-language has been proven to positively affect (in other words skew in your favor) interviewer ratings. The research tells us
This positive affect creates a halo effect, leading the interviewer to infer the existence of additional positive characteristics in the applicant.
This is a gift! So this research tells us that smiling can improve our chances of being offered a job. So why wouldn’t we smile?
A note on ‘fake’ smiling
Whilst researching this post, I read in a number of sources that ‘fake’ smiling can count against us. But in 2013, research conducted by Northeastern University, Boston discovered that we humans might not be as good at detecting false smiles as we might think. Time to practice the fake smile!
- There’s Magic in Your Smile – Psychology Today
- Endorphins – Wikipedia
- Women and Men’s Nonverbal Behavior and Self-Monitoring in a Job Interview Setting – Applied H.R.M. Research
- How we grin to bear it – the science of smiling – The Guardian
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