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How to Develop an Easy Smile

Tips for acquiring this under-considered attribute.

No author listed, pxfuel, CC free for commercial use
Source: No author listed, pxfuel, CC free for commercial use

We tend to like people with an easy smile. That comes naturally to some people, but keeping the following in mind might help you acquire one.

Decide It's Worth It

Some people dismiss smilers as shallow or phony. But as long as your motives are ethical, smiling—which engages most people more than does unrelenting soberness—is a tool for positive influence and is worth acquiring.

Be More Open to the Humorous

Look for the humor in people. That goes beyond laughing at people’s not-so-funny jokes. Try to be amused rather than to deride human failings, for example, when someone prattles overconfidently or dresses to impress but it does the opposite.

Summon Your Humorous Side

Even curmudgeons have a humorous side. When you’re about to interact with someone, remind yourself to pull out your own humorous side. Of course, it’s tricky: Your attempts at humor could fall flat. You could appear silly or phony, like the salesperson smiling only to get a sale. So don’t try too hard nor try to be who you’re not. Within your natural range of demeanor, look to occasionally offer a pun, bon mot, humorous anecdote, or even a canned joke. You might even want to have a half-dozen jokes at the ready.

If you’re feeling insecure about telling jokes, it couldn’t hurt to practice a few. In that this is Psychology Today, here are two shorties that are psychology-related:

When my counselor recited the evils of drinking, I gave up counseling.

Why can’t you explain puns to kleptomaniacs? They always take things literally.

It can't all be about psychology, so here's a George Carlin one l like: “Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?”

When you’re ready for a challenge, here’s a bit longer psychology-related joke:

A poodle tells his friend the collie, “My life is a mess: My owner is mean, my girlfriend ran away with a schnauzer, and I’m as jittery as a cat.” The collie asks, “Why don’t you see a therapist?” “I can’t,” replies the poodle. “I’m not allowed on the couch.”

Laugh at Yourself

When you screw up, for example, your joke falls flat, laugh at yourself. Indeed, newscasters are taught to briefly snicker at themselves when they flub a word. Laughing at yourself was one of Johnny Carson’s tactics: When one of his jokes bombed and they often did, he’d make a self-effacing comment. For example, he once grinned, “Is this mic on?”

Practice Your Smile

Different smiles are more engaging... or less. Stand in front of a mirror and try some: broader, narrower, toothier, less so. Put yourself in another person’s shoes: Which smile would be most engaging? Practice that one until it’s in muscle memory.

Don’t turn the smile on and off like a light switch. That’s not what people do naturally. Rather, think of your smile as a dimmer switch, gradually coming on or off over a second or two. Practice doing that.

The Takeaway

In relationships, personal and even professional, we tend to be attracted to people who make us feel good, and one way to do that is to cultivate an easy smile.

I read this aloud on YouTube.

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