We all use hand gestures to help us convey our thoughts without words: We can show that we’re doing fine with a thumbs-up. We can tell someone to speed up or slow down by waving our hands. We can demonstrate growth or decline by sliding our hands in an upward or downward direction. We can make a wish by crossing our fingers. We can give someone a high five or a fist bump to show support.
Just like hand gestures, a smile can be a non-verbal indication of a thought. A smile shows our listeners that we are happy, we’re interested in them, and we are approachable. However, unlike hand gestures, the absence of a smile has meaning as well. No smile indicates negative feelings: we look unhappy, annoyed, unapproachable, or even angry.
How often do you smile? Do you smile when someone comes up to your desk to ask you a question? Do you smile when you are talking on the phone? (People can tell whether or not you are smiling from your voice!)
What kind of emotion is your “resting” face conveying? As you are reading this, freeze your expression and then look in a mirror. What does your face say about you? Many of us sit all day at our computers with a frown on our faces. It definitely does not help us look friendly and approachable.
The trick to smiling is to smile not just with your mouth but with your eyes as well. People are able to judge whether a smile is sincere or not. To practice what your “real” smile looks like, think of something funny, smile, and look at yourself in the mirror. Crinkle your eyes and let out a laugh. This is how your real smile should feel. Share it.
Let’s do it together right now: one, two, three, smile! 🙂