Of all the baffling things I had ever heard of, at a company where I used to work, managers were sent on weekend seminar to learn how to smile. I thought it was silly and unnecessary to say the least wasteful; however it was serious enough for the owners to send its entire management staff to smile school – “off campus.”
After hearing about the benefits of smile school, I no longer thought it was nonsense. Now I remember the affects that smiling and having a good sense of humor has had in my lifetime. I used to laugh quite a bit with my colleagues and proud to say, I was pretty popular. (I believe I made up for it from being unpopular in high school.) Popularity has everything to do with personality, good karma, sincerity, outgoingness, true friendship and a sense of humor, and not money or good looks – however, if you have both – what a winning combo!
Anyway, I learned that the simple act of smiling can have quite an impact not only on the one smiling, but on the receiver of the smile. In my high school years and just learning to drive, I was waiting for a green arrow to turn left on Main Street of Wheaton, Illinois. I was caught off guard by a young, good looking gentleman turning left in front of my car in order to go south. He simply smiled at me…me! And for no apparent reason, that I could think of and it wasn’t a smirky smile, a dirty smile, or anything underhanded, it was a pure and innocent smile – just as lovely as the day was beautiful. If it weren’t, I would never have chosen to remember him all these years. But I remember myself back then checking the mirror to see if I looked okay, or what the heck was it that made this man smile at me? Teenagers, so insecure. Just shows you what a simple, sincere smile can do!
I have often marveled at a good friend of mine, whose 3 boys grew up with my son, back in Skokie. One day, as I was thinking about them after seeing some old pictures, I thought, you know, I don’t think I have ever seen these people not smiling not just in pictures, but in person. Just being in their presence, they are continually smiling and not in a clownish way, or anything goofy like that. They are smiling pleasantly. Noticing that, consciously or subconsciously, it really makes one feel at ease and that when we engage in conversation; they are listening and enjoying my company.I think this is the major point to get across at smile school for managers. I’m sure there is an endorphin benefit for the smiler, but it says so much more to the “smilee.”
On the other hand, in Japan, smile schools teach them how to smile to hide any emotions they are experiencing. This You Tube video is very interesting. It also teaches smile students how to smile in situations where it’s hard to smile. They are so serious about smiling that many CEOs will fire non-smilers. As the video narrator says, to them it’s “no laughing matter.”
According to Psychology Today, Christopher Peterson states, “Smiling is pleasant – to do and to see – and a smiling employee is accordingly likely to provide a more pleasant experience for customers. We all have had the misfortune of dealing with disgruntled employees whose goal is apparently to make us as miserable as they are, never mind that we are trying to pay for whatever they are providing, whether it is lunch, postage stamps, or a new driver’s license. So I applaud the attempt to make the folks we deal with more pleasing.”
For me, if it’s a tossup between a very knowledgeable customer service person but a frowner, or a less than knowledgeable person, but a smiler, I will always lean toward the smiling one.
Do you think having more smilers at your company can improve things – not just morale, but customer-wise? Drop me a line and let me know.