When I was a teenager, I worked at a telemarketing company setting up appointments with homeowners for thermal window presentations. We were each given a very small cubical, a phone, a few torn-out pages of the reverse directory phone book, and instructed to call everyone up and down each street until someone said “yes.” One of the very few tools we were provided with was a mirror mounted directly in front of us, so we could see our facial expressions as we spoke with people. Underneath the mirror, there was a small sign that said, “smile and dial,” because people can indeed hear a smile in our voices. Try this with your friends. Speak on the phone with a smile and then without. Have them tell you when you are smiling. Invariably they will guess correctly. Remember, our clients can hear our smiles too!
It’s been said that a smile only has value after you give it away to someone else. That’s not just touchy-feely, tittle-tattle either; there is a plethora of hard, scientific data to back that up with facts.
A 2001 study from Jörn P.W Scharlemann shows that a smile increases trust amongst people by 10%. A 1991 study by Hinsz & Tomhave shows that when you smile, you get reciprocal smiles from 50% of people (pretty good odds!). A 1978 study by Tidd, Kathi L.; Lockard, Joan S., titled the “Monetary significance of the affiliative smile: A case for reciprocal altruism.” showed that service staff earned significantly more than their slack-faced, bovine-like peers. If you’re not sold yet, a 1952 study by Abel & Kruger suggests that smiling people outlived their forlorn friends by an average of 7 years!
The eyes are also powerful communication tools. More than that, our eyes tell people if our smile is genuine or not. A smile that engages only the mouth is forced. A smile that includes the eyes is real. These genuine smiles are called a “Duchenne” smiles, named after a 19th-century neurologist from France who figured all this stuff out. Also, make sure when you smile, that you proudly display your crow’s feet–we all have them! It’ll show the world that you are indeed happy to see them and that you have been smiling for a long, long time!
Let’s begin each day with a big smile, wear it on the way to the bank, and enjoy a longer and happier life.