Smiling a lot is a valued trait: People who often smile sincerely radiate likeability, connect easily with others and are appreciated more.
By smiling, you make a positive impression that will assist in making contacts and reaching your goals. Moreover, smiling makes you feel good. However, not all smiles are created equal, and it is not a good idea to smile in every situation.
Let’s face it, smiling is not always as easy as it looks, which might be why why we often indulge in it so sparingly. When all is said and done, it takes a bit of practice to turn smiling into a habit. In this article I will provide you with some ideas on how to practise, in the hopes of putting a pleasant smile on your face that stays there for a long time.
What does your smile mean?
Management is serious business! However, most managers are aware of the positive effect a well meant smile can have on others. In most situations your smile will contribute to your success. On the other hand, there are moments when you’d better not smile: Imagine that you are receiving some bad-news, or you’re in the middle of a difficult negotiation.
In addition, not all smiles are created equal: When someone smiles, we think of pleasure and happiness first, but that interpretation is not always correct. Imagine, for example, that you stumble on the street and almost knock into someone. Are you happy? No! But the chances are high that you will smile at the other person, and that the other person will immediately answer with a smile. The meaning of the smile here is more by way of an apology.
Dare to smile
Finding the right balance between showing a happy or serious facial expression is an art in itself. We want to come across as relaxed and friendly, but be taken seriously at the same time. However, If we contemplate this for too long, a frown will soon appear on our faces. In the end, with a smile, you will achieve the most and you will feel most happy with it. Nevertheless smiling isn’t always that easy; sometimes a lot of courage is needed to do it. Especially in situations where when it’s preferable to smile, we tend to clench our jaws and look too tense.
Many job applicants miss out on a promising career because they were too tense to conjure a spontaneous smile on their faces. Many lovers miss out on their life partner because they didn’t dare smile during the first meeting. And many managers have possibly lost the deal of their dreams, because they couldn’t smile spontaneously.
A well-meant smile is almost something you cannot do too much of. Most people respond positively to this friendly gesture. And if they do not do that, it probably says more about their own fear of smiling. That said, smiling at someone who does not smile back can evoke a feeling of discomfort and shame. We naturally fear losing face. That’s why we perhaps do not always dare to smile.
Smiling in discomfort
If you are not accustomed to smiling spontaneously, you will quickly feel uncomfortable in situations where smiling is required, and through this feeling, how your smile looks is changed. Take as an example again the loving couple who look into each other’s eyes for the first time. They like what they see, and they could show that by smiling broadly as they gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes. However, the uncertainty of new love causes their smile to become less broad while they look shyly at the ground. This kind of smile doesn’t mean “I’m happy to see you”, but rather “I’m uncomfortable with you looking at me”.
In a business context, during a job interview for example, we tend to only smile with our mouths while our eyes aren’t smiling at all, perhaps because of the tension. This rigid smile doesn’t come across as honest, and has a rather counterproductive effect..
Make smiling second nature
If you make it second nature to smile easily in different situations, it won’t take that much effort to smile disarmingly when the tension rises somewhat. In order do that, you need to practise smiling. By experiencing how it feels to smile you can also observe how your smile comes across to others, and how they react to it: Smiling often will give you the self-confidence to keep on smiling.