In a world increasingly divided and hostile, the best thing we can offer is service with a smile.
The Benefits of Smiling
It’s not something we think about often, but there are benefits associated with smiling. In addition to providing a warm, welcoming demeanor, smiling has other benefits, like:
- Increased mood
- Reduced anxiety
- Aid digestion
- Regulate blood sugar
- Decrease pain
- Stronger immune system
- Create a positive mindset
- And more!
But here’s the crazy thing. Smiling, scientists have discovered, is contagious. This means that when you smile (and get these benefits), others will too!
Service With A Smile
I remember a conflict I was in with one former employer. He wanted to know why I never smiled at him when he walked into the office. Convinced something was wrong between us, he began to harbor feelings of anger and resentment. It carried into other spheres of working together, and eventually, I was almost written up over it!
The sad truth? My desk faced the doors and I’d often look up, lost in thought. If they walked by, it wasn’t that I was upset, angry, or dismissive of them. I was simply thinking too hard!
But this did cause me to become more aware of my facial expressions towards others. Instead of dismissing those claims, I took them to heart. I want everything I do to be a warm, welcoming place for people to be around.
I made a conscious effort to work on smiling when engaging others. For someone used to being accused of RBF, this was no small challenge. It has been, however, entirely worth it. The effort to put more work into smiling and engaging others has proved useful for business and personal reasons.
One of the great things that smiling does for us as leaders are that it engages others. It marks us as warm, approachable, open, affirming, and in control.
Smiling communicates that we are calm and steadfast.
Providing service with a smile is more than plastering on a fake veneer, it is training our brain, and those around us, to look for the good in all situations.
It demonstrates our ability to work under pressure.
Service with a smile provides reassuring calm in the midst of surrounding storms.
One area I’ve seen this work is in parenting. When I need to have difficult conversations with my children, I make sure to put on a smile. Not to dismiss wrong or correctable behavior, but to let them know that it is okay. Everything is going to work out fine. Sometimes, I even let them know, “I’m not bad, but I do want to talk about what happened.”
This works in the workplace as well. Really, in all areas where we feel called to lead.
Service with a smile lets others know that we will all get through this together.
Take An Inventory
The easiest way to get started experiencing the benefits of smiling is to smile. The quickest way to get there is to take an inventory.
Where are the moments we struggle with the most? How have we responded? What would we like to do differently?
Start by planning your day, based on how you want to engage the world and what you hope to accomplish with a smile.
Then, think about the common places where you’re interacting with people and write down intentional things you will do to smile and engage them.
One area where I had to work hard (and to be honest, I’m still working at) is to smile when I produce online content. It’s not that I’m unhappy or grump. Instead, it’s that I take seriously my calling to make great content that I get so focused on that that I can forget to enjoy myself.
I’ve started to write down physical notes when I record (or speak live) to smile. It’s actually in my notes, BE SURE TO SMILE HERE.
It engages the audience and creates rapport.
Smiling communicates value.
It demonstrates appreciation.
As leaders, everything we do is monitored. To be at our best, one simple way is to smile.
Creating opportunities for service with a smile transforms our thinking, influences our actions, transforms conflict, creates opportunity, and advances the mission.