If you don’t smile, they won’t believe you

During a recent speech at a Prudential conference in Minneapolis, we spent some time talking about the value (and practice) of smiling. And I was thinking to myself, Am I beating a dead horse? Is the topic of smiling completely overdone?

No way.

This particular picture (thanks Ryan, those black & whites look great!), captured a moment when I introduced myself to someone in the audience. I shook his hand, offered my name and said, “Nice to meet you.”

…without smiling.

It was hard to keep a straight face! But in so doing I think the message was clear: if you don’t smile when you say “nice to meet you,” people won’t believe you.

Too many businesspeople STILL don’t get it: smiling is the number one indicator that conversation is desirable. What’s more, according to a 2004 CNN.com poll of 1,500 registered voters, “A smile is the leading indicator of a person’s approachability.”

But alas, common sense is not common practice. So, here are my tips:

  • Humans have a natural tendency to evaluate others upon an entrance. So, use this opportunity to project approachability to all who watch: smile for the first ten seconds ever time you walk into a room. Make everyone think, Hmmm…wonder what she’s so happy about? or Hey, he looks like a friendly guy!
  • Read Kevin Eikenberry’s post about handshakes. Good stuff.
  • Next time you order a coffee, buy a book or approach the check out counter, count how long it takes before the cashier smiles at you. If the number is more than 1.5 seconds, that’s not good. In which case, you might need to smile first 😉
  • Smile when you say goodbye. After all, sometimes the best FIRST impression is a LAST impression.


    Is smiling overdone or underused?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

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