Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Slap a Smile On Your Face

This post is part of a series on how to improve morale (and the bottom line) in your company at little or no cost.

“I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.” 
-Mother Teresa

Photo by eperales (Flickr)
        A smile is contagious.  Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden have figured out that it is difficult to keep a straight face when others around you are smiling.  A smile from one person actually suppresses the control another person has over their own facial muscles, causing them to smile as well.⁠1
More importantly, according to Darwin’s Facial Response Feedback Theory, which is supported by recent studies, smiling actually causes us to feel good, as opposed to smiling because we feel good.  This means that when we smile we feel good, causing others around us to smile, making them feel good as well.⁠2

It's difficult for a person to be angry if met with a smile that is reflecting a pleasant and empathetic attitude.  Imagine if you were to greet your employees each day with a smile, or smiled around the office, the store, or the worksite, more throughout the day.  It would make the workplace a genuinely nice place to be.
You can't fake a genuine smile.  If you're in a bad mood, a smile will come across as disingenuous.  As Guy Kawasaki said, “The key to a great... smile is to think pleasant thoughts.”⁠3

I’ve worked at places where smiles from my managers, supervisors and co-workers were scarce.  Those are the work environments where people are most on edge because they feel as if they aren’t doing anything right.  Combined with a lack of openness from managers, this can lead to a constant fear that someone is about to get into trouble or worse yet, terminated.

While you can’t smile all day long and you’ll certainly have days when you don’t feel like smiling, just remember that smiling is contagious and can infect your whole staff, improving feelings and increasing morale.

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