I’ve been in the customer service business all my adult life. Pastoring growing churches. Creating great experiences at summer camp. Hosting seminars, conferences, and retreats. No matter what the organization or event, it’s all about people. Creating an experience that not only adds value to people but makes them want to continue their relationship with you.
I’ve learned a thing or two about creating such experiences and building lasting relationships. There are several “power principles” I teach pastors, event organizers, volunteer team leaders, and parents that make huge differences in their culture. The first of which is the power of a smile.
No Greater Tone-Setter
People are attracted to friendly people. And there’s no better way to communicate that than through a smile.
It can be intimidating starting a new job, attending a new school, checking out a new church. We’ve all gone to a new place with hopeful expectations of the new people we’ll meet or the experience—only to be met by seemingly disengaged and disinterested people.
The flip side of that is being greeted by someone—or a lot of someones—with a genuine smile. It welcomes, disarms, and brings relief to any person entering a new situation or meeting new people.
Before a word is spoken, that smile sets the tone. It draws us in like a tractor beam.
Why So Serious?
Amazingly, however, smiling takes conscious effort.
And I don’t know why exactly. I’m told it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. Yet most faces seem to be conditioned to frown.
Most of us think we’re smiling a lot more than we are. I know I did. Early in our family’s history, my wife would always remind me to smile during a family photograph. I never understood that because I felt I was always smiling.
Then I took a look at past pictures. My smile was negligible at best. I test drove my smile another way—I crafted a smile, then looked in the mirror. It didn’t look like it felt to me.
My own rule of thumb is that you probably have to smile to the extent you feel you’re exaggerating—then it’s probably about right.
For that reason, you may need to conduct smile training sessions in your family and at your team meetings!
Smiling Affects You
It’s easy to understand how a smile may affect others. But it actually affects the person smiling at least as much.
You can easily test it yourself. If you’re feeling a bit stressed, agitated, irritable, or bored, crack a smile and hold it. It counters negative emotions. It creates energy, enthusiasm, and motivation.
It changes the way you relate to others.
You may not be feeling like waiting tables today or ringing up orders at the counter. Consciously smiling changes everything. Instead of just going through the motions with others you serve or interact with, you will be more genuinely engaged.
People can even tell the difference when not looking at you! Smiling while talking on the phone changes your voice. People can tell.
Cultivate The Habit In You And Your Team
Beginning with you, start becoming more conscious of smiling—whether you are alone or with others or talking on the phone. You’ll find it tends to be contagious.
Encourage those you have influence with to do the same—your family, your coworkers, your volunteer team.
Do the smile drills and boost your smile factor. Put it to the test and take note of its impact on you and those you come in contact with.
Question: What impact has your smile made on you and/or others? Share your answer in the comments below.