The value of a smile


Interacting with others can involve a variety of different dimensions, including our actual words, the tone of our voice and our non-verbal body language. One important aspect of interpersonal communication that is often taken for granted is the value of a smile.
Given the fact that the people with whom we interact perceive a great deal about us from our facial expressions, a smile can send a powerful message. When we display a genuine smile, it generally conveys that we are cheerful, friendly and comfortable. Such attributes usually suggest an outward expression of optimism and confidence springing from a deep sense of happiness within.
A smile serves as an interpersonal magnet because people usually like to meet and interact with others who come across as upbeat and positive, and they tend to want to avoid those who appear withdrawn and unfriendly. In addition, when we approach others with a warm smile, it helps to transform their attitudes in a positive way. People who are in the habit of smiling usually have an easier time convincing others to adopt their ideas, and because positive interactions help people build relationships, smiles can help cement social and professional ties with our friends and colleagues.
When confronted with a smile, most people tend to smile back, and this can subconsciously cause them to become more agreeable and cooperative in their dealings with others. When people come to expect good outcomes from a personal interaction, they are much more likely to be realized. Smiling can be infectious. In a work environment, it can help reduce anxiety, inspire teamwork and calm high-stress situations.
Research has shown, even when talking on the phone, a smile can improve results. In today’s high-tech culture, the voice on the other end of the line still matters significantly. Even if others can’t see us, when we smile while talking, our listeners can sense our comfortable and agreeable disposition coming across through the telephone. It’s almost as if it’s impossible to communicate disagreeably when there’s a smile on your face. This is why organizations spend millions to have just the right voice on their automated telephone answering systems.
A smile equals happiness, and the voice with a smile almost always wins. Unless it is clearly inappropriate in a particular situation, try to display a smile in all your interpersonal interactions both in person and over the telephone. It doesn’t have to be a huge ear-to-ear beam, just a sincere, pleasant facial expression that is distinctly noticeable. Try to consciously smile when talking with your co-workers, your boss, your children, your spouse and anyone else with whom you interact.
Certainly we can’t always be in the mood to smile. We all encounter problems and personal circumstances that are anything but smile-worthy. However, we all also experience or have experienced happy, positive situations as well, and these are the ones we should focus on most of the time because they are the ones that make us appealing to others. A smile costs nothing to give but usually enriches those who receive it. It can happen in a flash but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
Feelings follow actions. See what positive feeling you can generate in others as well as in yourself through the regular display of a sincere smile.
Pat Iannuzzi of Symbiont Performance Group, Inc. is a performance consultant, trainer and coach focusing on selling, presentation and interpersonal skills. He lives in Litchfield and can be reached at 860-283-9963 or


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