Operation Smile; the smiling guide to better business

There’s been much written about the power of a smile. We know it lifts your mood. We understand that it’s a heart-warming method of communication. It’s hugely important to our personalities, self-confidence and relationships. But can a smile really make a difference to the success of your business?

operation smileTaking a closer look at the power of a smile, and the difference a good once can make, this article considers how smiling might contribute to our success – and why.

Smiling improves your mood

Smiling makes you feel better. It’s a fact. Smiling releases the hormone serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness and well-being. It’s a proven scientific physiological process.

All in all, in a good mood you’re a nicer person to be around. Your staff and customers appreciate you more. When you’re in a good mood, you are much more likely to be engaging in a positive way with your staff and customers.

Smiling is good for your health

Smiling has documented therapeutic effects. It helps to tone down the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine, while it increases the release of health promoting and mood enhancing hormones. Concomitantly, smiling also lowers blood pressure. Smiling makes your immune system stronger by increasing white blood cell count (white blood cells help fight off viruses and infections).

On a cellular level smiling actually has the impact of releasing tension in cells. Biochemist and author, Sondra Barrett states in her book Secrets of Your Cells that tension is transferred to a cellular level and makes cells rigid, which she says leads to stress-induced mutations. Our cells respond to a reduction in tension in a positive way.

And, if you love smiling, then the chances are you take oral health seriously. Looking after your teeth, after years of care and/or through the help of cosmetic dentistry, means you are more likely to keep your adult teeth for the whole of your life.

Smiling changes your personality

Did you know a smile can change your brain? We now know that smiling can improve your mood and reduce your stress levels, but it’s apparently capable of changing our personality too.

Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage concludes that if you smile enough you end up rewiring your brain to make positive patterns. He argues that we need to practise the art of smiling because “it’s something that requires our brains to train just like an athlete has to train.” Essentially he says the more we train the easier it is to be positive and shut out negativity.

Achor turns the ‘seeking happiness’ analogy on its head. Conventional wisdom holds that if we can just get the dream job, the perfect relationship and so on, we’ll be happy. Achor points to recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology and concludes that happiness fuels success, not the other way around.

Smiling helps build lasting relationships

Smiling is a key ingredient for healthy and genuine relationships. A smile indicates that someone likes you, and it offers encouragement. When someone is smiling while you are talking to them you know they are enjoying the conversation with you. A smile when you first meet someone indicates you are happy to see them. It encourages dialogue and makes a good first impression.

On a day to day basis with staff and customers, you’re much more approachable when you are smiling and willing to engage. It’s no surprise to learn that people with smiles are more trusted than those with non-smiling facial expressions.

Smiling enhances your business

At the very least, your front of house should practise a ‘3-second smile’ policy. The moment anyone walks into your office, reception, shop or business space your frontline staff should give a warm and welcoming smile. There’s no doubt that a genuine smile of hospitality when a person first comes into contact with your business will leave them with a good impression about your business culture. A smile when someone first enters your business space lets them know they are being acknowledged and that you care.

And it’s not only front of house that should practise the art of smiling. It’s the first thing sales people learn. Business deals can be done through smiling. Even on the telephone, your smile can be heard. It changes the intonation of your voice.

Smiling gives you credibility and exudes confidence. A smile is also a great ice-breaker. Imagine meeting someone for the first time. If they are unfriendly and dour or scowling, they’re not likely to encourage you to do business with them. It’s definitely a turn off. A genuine smile on the other hand conveys positivity and warmth.

Approaching customers or other members of the business community, even your bank manager, with a smile is much more likely to set you up for a positive interaction. A smile can influence what the other person does or says next.

Make smiling part of your corporate culture

Smiling will have more of an impact on your business than you think. It costs nothing and the results could be dramatic. Not only will it help you to make a better impression, if you make it a company-wide culture you’ll be giving your staff the opportunity to develop themselves too.

Get your smile on. National Smile Month, promoted by the Oral Health Foundation, could be the time to promote regular smile training exercises in your corporate calendar. It runs from May 15 to June 15.