Author and speaker Michael Hyatt recounted recently how, some years ago, he was asked at work if he was angry with someone. “No,” he replied, a bit surprised. His associate shared that he looked as if he was ticked off. He had no idea he was doing this. Many of us who tend towards a more serious personality style can similarly send the message that we’re upset with someone without ever intending to, or even being aware of it.
Smiling is a leadership quality that’s equally important in networking and business
My personality style, one that’s focused on getting the job done, means that I often come across as being a little too serious looking. I was fortunate enough to have a colleague tell me that some time ago and I’ve been working on smiling more to counter the impression that I might not be approachable enough. So Michael Hyatt’s story about not smiling enough struck a personal cord with me.
I thought I would share his five points on why we should smile more. These tips apply equally well to networking and business.
1. Smiling helps others relax
When you look intense, it creates a primal reaction in others. Their defenses go up. They become protective and guarded. This is the opposite of what you want to happen! A smile communicates that you are safe and can be trusted.
2. Smiling draws people to you
Have you ever noticed how you are automatically attracted to people who smile and laugh a lot? The positive energy is contagious. You instinctively smile in response, and feel more positive about yourself. People naturally want to be around people who are happy.
3. Smiling enables you to connect
Smiling is one of the best, quickest ways to connect with anyone from any culture or demographic. Even if you don’t speak the same language, a smile is universally understood and appreciated. It opens the door, welcomes people into your world, and communicates acceptance. A smile can even turn people around from being frustrated or angry to wanting a connection with you.
4. Smiling creates positive culture
If you want to change the culture of an organization, you change the behavior of its leaders, says Michael Hyatt. People naturally play “follow the leader.” So when you smile, you are more likely to come across as a leader, and others will follow you with their own smiles. Smiling communicates that your business is healthy, that you are not stressed or facing too many challenges, and even if you are it says that you’re able to put them in perspective and not let them affect your outlook on life. This encourages others.
5. Smiling elevates your mood
One of the more surprising benefits of smiling are physiological. It literally affects you at a biological level, releasing endorphins and seratonins. Smiling relieves stress, lowers your blood pressure and boosts your immune system.
Are you smiling enough when networking? Set a goal to smile more this year. If you tend to have a more serious personality type, enlist an accountability partner whom you trust to give you honest feedback about how much you’re smiling. It will have a positive effect on your networking efforts.