The power of your smile

If our smile is authentic we usually feel good, don’t we? Smiling relaxes us and so relaxes the people we are in contact with. It’s hard to stay annoyed with someone who genuinely smiling at you—the effect is completely disarming. It can transform a lot of the misunderstanding and projection that can clog up the work environment so easily.

A story to prove it

A woman at a recent workshop explained that she had not been getting on well with her boss. She felt he was overly critical and slow to appreciate her work, and was frequently dismissive of her input. Things had become so uncomfortable that she dreaded meetings with him and tried to avoid running into him in the office.

Eventually she realized that she had backed herself into a corner and was feeling stressed and unhappy, so she made the decision to change tactics. When she went into work the next day she made a point of greeting her boss with a friendly smile and a warm ‘good morning’. She kept it up for several days until she noticed that her boss began to respond—cautiously at first but gradually relaxing and even sharing a joke, or friendly comment with her.

Her experience showed her that when communication gets tricky, then things are ripe for misunderstanding and projection and we can turn another person into a monster-like figure of unreasonableness and unpleasantness. By cutting through the pattern of miscommunication with friendliness and warm smiles she gave her boss the opportunity to become a human being again—an opportunity he was glad to take.

We are too busy to smile

This story brought home to me how easy it is to forget to smile when we get absorbed at work. There’s always so much to do in such short amount of time, as well as worrying about all the things to be done once we get out of work and all the demands of ‘real life’ begin. Everyone has their head down with their specific tasks and smiling is not necessarily top of the list—or on some days, even on the list at all.

Smiling is good for you

To underline the importance of finding the time to smile there is plenty of current research that explores the benefits of smiling—lowering blood pressure, easing stress, possibly strengthening the immune system but if we connect with our experience we do not even need to look so far. When we smile we immediately feel better ourselves. That feeling is contagious and can spread through a whole room lifting the atmosphere for everyone—not bad for a simple smile.

You might enjoy watching this short video of the artist Claire Lemmel’s work with smiles.

Maureen Cooper

Some of the BLOGS here are written by friends of mine but most of them are from me. Each time I write a blog I am telling a story about the kind of things that happen to us on a daily basis. Usually we have set ways of coping with these events but they don’t always work and even if they do, they might not achieve the long-term result we want. I try to suggest some new approaches to the stuff that comes up for us and whenever possible, include a short practice to help us remember. Let me know what you think - it is always good to hear from you.

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