Earlier this month, my place of employment hosted a teen job shadowing program. As a result, the first three hours of my day were spent alongside seven bright and ambitious 4th through 8th graders.
The students had a lot of ideas, feedback, and questions. It was an enjoyable morning; a morning that encouraged me to reflect upon my career thus far, and, ultimately, to consider that one piece of advice I would most like to share. Simply put, the secret weapon that I have learned to stash away in my bag of professional proficiencies for easy reach at all times – a big, bright smile.
If you are having a trying day … smile.
If you are at a networking event, with a coffee stain on your new white blouse … smile.
If you were corrected publicly in a meeting by a colleague … smile even bigger.
My big-mouthed (mostly always sincere) smile is my most powerful weapon, and it is loads safer to employ over my razor-sharp, potentially career-ending, wit. After some research, it turns out smiling is a weapon employed by the best and the brightest for a number of key reasons.
Smiling is Contagious: According to the article “The Untapped Power Of Smiling” featured on Forbes.com, “When you smile, you look good and feel good. When others see you smile, they smile too. When others smile, they look good and feel good, too. Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match … And unlike lots of chocolate, lots of smiling can actually make you healthier.”
Smiling Diffuses Anger (on both sides): Every business professional has been forced to work with a challenging colleague or customer at one point in their career. Meeting with this individual may cause you to feel apprehension or anxiety, which will add even more discomfort to an already difficult situation. Instead of greeting this person with a grimace, make a conscious effort to smile. Smiling will change the tenor of a conversation.
Smiling Reduces Stress: Stress in the workplace is a growing concern for both smaller and larger companies. Stress can decrease employee effectiveness, foster a poor work culture, and affect the health of employees. So, if you are having a tough day and do not have time for a yoga break, take 5 minutes to smile at yourself in the restroom mirror. Sure you might feel a little silly, but all throwing that feeling aside, you will feel better. And so will all your nearby colleagues once you exit the restroom following this smile break session with a new outlook on the day, and the renewed will to make it to 5 p.m.
Smiling Can Help You Advance in your Career: Smiling makes you appear more confident – even when that smile is being maintained only through multiple shots of Starbucks espresso and donuts. Confidence leads to increased effectiveness and follow-through, which in turns leads to trust from superiors. Then, this growing trust leads to promotions. Or, so the expert say.
Wow, the power of a smile. Who knew? Maybe this simple gesture is truly the path to all happiness.