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13 Jan


The Power of a Smile

January 13, 2013 | By |

Why is smiling so important in human interaction?

When people bestow a smile upon is, it feels like a small gift or a compliment, at the very least it is a polite acknowledgement. However, you have been given something. It is social currency. 
When speaking even about the driest subject, a smile makes people warm to you and want to listen to you. If you’re sporting teeth out of a horror movie, closed mouthed smiles with bright eyes can still have impact, so don’t lose heart. Just mean it.
According to writer Marianne LaFrance, author of ‘Lip Service’, women smile more than men. Apparently men with more testosterone smile less than those with less testosterone.  If you’re a grump and try to justify this by thinking it makes you all man, all you’re doing is avoiding wielding your magic smile powers!
A French neurologist, Guillaume-Benjamin-Armand Duchenne, determined that, smiles of genuine happiness or pleasure, utilize muscles around the eyes as well as those around the mouth.  We’re all aware of ‘smiles that fail to reach the eyes’.  In studies, people who view faces with ‘Duchenne’ Smiles, rate them as more intelligent, capable, friendly, attractive, kind and sincere.
Allegedly around 80% of us are able to pull off a fake Duchenne. However, not all smiles need to be mega-wattage; showing a band of perfect veneers and eyes all crinkly and sparkly, to make a positive impression.  Look at Ms Mona Lisa! People have been talking about that smile for centuries!
We all have a range of smiles, some examples:
1.    The ‘Duchenne smile’ which takes over your face because you are too happy to conceal it.
2.    The ‘I think you’re attractive but I am going to keep my smile small and brief, so you don’t know how keen I am’ smile.
3.    The ‘God you’re boring but I know I have to be polite’ smile which is about as sincere as a loan shark.
4.    The ‘I am terrified about the speech I am about to give but if I smile at you all, you’ll be kind to me I know you will!’ smile.
If you want people to think flattering things about you, then practise the Duchenne smile.  As much as you can, THINK HAPPY, then smile. Most people can manage to grin broadly and crinkle their eyes but if there are conflicting messages, such as arm folding or brow furrowing then the recipient won’t be fooled. Feel it and mean it.
Just smile more in general, even if you’re on your own, it will lift your mood.
Smile at people you like and smile at strangers you pass in the street. (Maybe SOME discretion is advised) Above all, smiling humanises you, makes you seem warm, and nicer to be around. Whether you’re in an interview, giving a speech or proposing, a smile can only ever add to the occasion.

For more information about public speaking go to