It is easy for me to become lost in my thoughts or concerns. These introspective side streets can be interpreted by others as disconnectedness or aloofness. That’s not the message I want to be sending! Here’s the thing: a genuine smile will dispel that negativity and much more. Let’s talk about that.
Your smile is good for you
I mean this literally. When we flash our pearly whites (or not so-white) the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphin and serotonin are released. These help reduce our stress levels, relaxing our body, and lowering heart rate and blood pressure. The serotonin, in particular, boosts our mood and act as nature’s own anti-depressant.
Your smile is good for others
Our brain is wired that when we see someone smiling at us we smile back. It is an unconscious automatic response. If you don’t buy this, then trying smiling at people and take note at how often they smile back. To say it another way, it takes conscious effort to frown at someone smiling at us.
We have already noted above the positive effects of smiling, and these benefits are shared by others when they smile back at us. There is more. Viewing a smiling face activates the part of the brain that processes sensory rewards. This seems to indicate that people feel rewarded when someone smiles at them.
Your smile is good for leading
People want to be led by people who are competent, but also who also ‘have their backs’. Research is showing that the way to enhance our influence is to begin with warmth rather than strength. That means we must first demonstrate our positive intentions before we show that we have the moxy for the job at hand.
Smiling is one of the ways we can effectively communicate warmth. There are occasions when forcing a smile will have value, but this is not one of those. We are seeking to communicate trust, attentiveness and openness and for that we need a genuine smile that turns up our lips and wrinkles our eyes.
Here are a couple of tips to generate more genuine smiles. Number one, identify personal experiences that make you feel good. Can you appropriately work a story from one of those into your next presentation? The smiles will come more naturally to your face and your connect with your audience will be enhanced.
Second, in a social gathering converse with someone with whom your feel most at ease. Seek to channel that sense of comfort in your subsequent interactions.
Now it’s your turn
What other benefits to smiling have you observed?