When you see someone smiling, how do you feel about that person? Are you instinctively suspicious of the person? Do you automatically think that it’s insincere? Or do you find yourself drawn to that person? Do smiles immediately indicate friendliness and amiability?
Anyone who has ever been swayed or convinced by it knows the power of a disarming smile. It may seem like such a small, harmless gesture—and it most often is—but it also holds quite a lot of power.
In business, as in any industry, your smile can be key. Its presence or absence in your interactions can sway and determine outcomes. From its role in your mood to its impact in your presentations, there is more to your smile than meets the eye.
Smile outside, smile inside
Scientists have studied the effects of smiling and frowning on our moods and reactions. One study of the voluntary facial action technique showed that smiling could actually make a stimulus more pleasant than if one were frowning.
This shows us the first power that your smile has—making you feel better. The simple act of exerting our smile muscles can already do things to accentuate positive feelings and experiences. This isn’t about deceiving yourself by forcing yourself to smile when there’s nothing to smile about. It’s about knowing that this simple facial gesture isn’t just for the people we interact with but for ourselves as well.
This is important to keep in mind because a happy worker is a good worker. Our moods can affect the way we work more than we may realize. Keeping a sunny disposition makes you a great team member, not just by making you more pleasant to work with but also because when you feel good, you perform better.
The charm offensive
In many professions, your soft skills are just as important as the hard ones. Being a great salesperson, for example, isn’t just about memorizing all the details about your product or computing costs but also about being a good conversationalist.
Soft skills are those skills that you don’t necessarily learn in school or don’t earn qualifications for but are indispensable and highly valued. These include skills like critical thinking, teamwork, leadership, communication skills, and etiquette. Sure, you can take a course on these soft skills, but ultimately, you acquire these qualities and abilities through real-world practice and experience.
If you think about it, your smile plays a big role in some of these essential soft skills. With a kilowatt smile, you can command a room and influence a group. A friendly smile is the best way to start a conversation and to keep it going. A reassuring, commending smirk can communicate so much without needing words.
If you’re dealing with clients and customers a lot, a smile can make or break a deal. Imagine how important a smile is while making a big pitch presentation. Thinking about how approaching customers with a smile on the sales floor can lead to an actual sale.
That’s the other power your smile can wield. Smiles can mean good business. And if things go well, you might make your customers smile, too.
As with any tool or weapon, you need to maintain and care for that smile. Depending on your budget and how much work needs to be done, there are many procedures that you can go through to enhance that smile.
The most basic, of course, is proper hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss daily. Always have some mouthwash in your office drawer. A breath spray helps, too. A smile won’t be charming at all if there’s food stuck between your teeth and if your breath stinks.
Some people can also opt to go through dental procedures. From wearing space maintainers to teeth whitening, there are things you can do with your teeth to enhance their look. There are also Botox injections designed to make your smile more beautiful.
Sometimes, we need to put on fake smiles to manage an escalating situation. Maybe it’s to appease an upset client or to accept negative feedback politely. These are perfectly valid, and kudos to you for being able to put on these difficult smiles.
Ultimately, however, the best smiles are the genuine ones, so even as we work on our smiles, it’s important to make sure that we actually fill our lives and surround ourselves with things to smile about.