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Smiling: Why It’s Important in Your Personal Life and Workplace

This emotional expression can help you be happy, grateful, and productive.

Key points

  • The simple gesture of smile can affect our personal life and work environment.
  • Smiling can improve interpersonal relationships and increase performance and productivity at work.
  • Smiling is one mechanism that allows individuals to share their humanity, whether in social settings or in the workplace.

While there are many reasons to smile less these days, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, political polarization, social unrest, work stress, family pressures, and many others, there are also many reasons to smile, such as just being alive, being in good health, having our loved ones, having a job, experiencing a sense of gratitude, and many others.

A healthy smile transcends social status, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious values, or geographical location. Whether in Oakland, CA, USA, or Auckland, New Zealand, a smile has universal appeal.

Presenting a genuine and gracious smile to another person goes a long way. The beautiful thing about a smile is that it doesn’t cost a dime to smile, which means everybody can afford an honest smile. While smiling is often spontaneous, it can also be intentional, as a person chooses to smile more and in specific situations. An honest smile can be a reflection of one’s internal disposition.

A smile is contagious, medicinal, therapeutic, relaxes our muscles, and even makes us look more pleasant and approachable. When it becomes a habit to show pleasantness to another person through a smile, nothing in the world can take it away from you, even the daily challenges of life. A healthy smile is inviting and invigorating and can motivate people to reciprocate with their smiles, whether in a social setting or professional sphere.

A genuine smile leaves a memory in the minds of people who contact such a person. It is another way of promoting our shared humanity. A sense of calmness and a healthy smile can ease tension in a room full of anxiety and uncertainty, especially in a situation where decision-making is needed. Leaders who understand this simple gesture have their team members go the extra mile in the call of duty.

There are three reasons why authority figures should showcase and encourage smiles in the work environment: smiles provide links to pleasant experiences, improve interpersonal relationships, and increase performance and productivity.

  • Provide links to pleasant experiences. A smile signifies internal pleasantness and validation. There is a popular saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” While smiling can lead to laughter, it also relaxes the body and makes you more present in the now.

As an authority figure, being in the now and not aloof revalidates a sense of caring to your team members. Smiling is a behavior that becomes stronger with constant practice. It is never pleasant to work for a person who is always aloof and out of touch.

For one thing, a smile is beneficial to the person who is exercising it, and it has an infectious effect on others. Exercising smiling daily has a healthy, long-lasting impact on your immune system and increases healthy human relationships.

  • Improves interpersonal relationships. If you were asked to name one of your coworkers or managers you admire the most, chances are one of the traits of such a person would be their pleasant smile and professionalism. Our brain remembers pleasant emotions and how people make us feel. Nothing improves a relationship more than politeness and a healthy smile. And when a connection is improved, people make an effort to improve other relationships. Smiling increases the chances of bonding with others and is linked to performance and productivity.
  • Increases performance and productivity at work. Smiling is associated with positive emotions, and positive emotions are related to happiness. When a team member is in good spirits, they tend to produce more. An authority figure who wants a more productive workforce should promote a healthy work environment instead of a toxic and stressful environment.

A tense executive produces a team of associates who work under duress. A tense environment can be sensed by those who are in it. It is encouraging for team members and managers alike to be cognizant of the emotional temperature in their workplace because it will be reflected in the team members’ output.

While we acknowledge the presence of life’s uncertainties, we also should recognize the need to find meaningful gestures such as smiling to create a balanced life amid our challenges. Smiling is one mechanism that allows individuals to share their humanity, whether in relationships, social settings, or in the workplace.

Our collective recognition that showing kindness to one another could improve the relational health of our society is an indication that we are moving in the right direction. And besides, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”

References

Barrett, L. F., Adolphs, R., Marsella, S., Martinez, A. M., & Pollak, S. D. (2019). Emotional Expressions Reconsidered: Challenges to Inferring Emotion From Human Facial Movements. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 20(1), 1–68. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100619832930

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2021). Good Reasons to Smile, https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Patients-Families/Health-Library/He…

Loney, D. (2020). The Implications of Smiling at Work: Different kinds of smiles can indicate an employee’s true motivation, according to research from Marketing Prof. Patti Williams, https://www.wharton.upenn.edu/story/the-implications-of-smiling-at-work/

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Stress Management: Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth…

SunKyoung Kim, Masakazu Hirokawa, Soichiro Matsuda, Atsushi Funahashi, & Kenji Suzuki. (2021). Smiles as a Signal of Prosocial Behaviors Toward the Robot in the Therapeutic Setting for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34124170/

University of West Alabama. (2019). Psychology To Grin About: The Benefits Of Smiling and Laughter, https://online.uwa.edu/news/benefits-of-smiling-and-laughter/

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