The Advantages of Smiling

This may seem like a corny title for a post, but I don’t care. I have derived many benefits from my proclivity for smiling. It has helped me win new clients, make friends, calm hostile situations, and ease stress.

Let me give you a few examples.

One day, I was riding down the street on my bike. I was about to cross a gas station driveway when an old man in a big car pulled out right in front of me. He was clearly at fault but that didn’t matter. He was an old grump. He probably woke up angry and the negativity had been festering all day. Seeing a young man on a bike was enough to push him mover the edge. He rolled down his window to let me have it. I should have have been angry too, but I wasn’t. So instead of getting into an argument, I flashed him a big smile and asked him if he was alright. The oldster was immediately disarmed and apologized to me. He even seemed a bit charmed. I like to think it made his day.

I used to be a banquet waiter. We brought out food to people at wedding receptions, and then cleaned up the tables after the wedding was over. Since wedding receptions usually end late in the evening, I always had to go home late at night. They say the freaks come out at night and they are right. For a while I was riding the trolley home. My car was in the shop. The trolley station in downtown San Diego at midnight is really an awful place to be. There are drug addicts and gangsters all over the place. While I was sitting there waiting a tough looking Mexican gangster started coming in my direction. I was especially worried because I had about $130 worth of tips in my sock. Instead of getting nervous I gave him a big smile and and asked him how he was. A little taken aback, he said he was fine, and then sat down and started chatting with me! He actually told me that he was planning to rob me but in the end he couldn’t because I was too nice. It turned out that the dude actually had pretty good qualities, for a thieving Mexican gangster.

About three weeks ago, I landed a new accounting client. It isn’t a huge client. I’ll probably make something to the tune of $8,000 annually from this client. Believe me when I tell you, I said almost nothing in the meeting. I nodded, asked questions, and smiled the whole time. Upon meeting, I shook the person’s hand, looked her square in the eyes and smiled. During the meeting, I laughed at her jokes and smiled while listening. When it was time to close the deal, I simply said “I can do this job” and gave her genuine smile. She said “I’m so excited to work with you! You seem so easy to work with.”

Of course, you don’t want to be walking around like a crazy smiling fool. My trick is to always try to find something that I like about the person I’m talking to. This way when you smile, you do it out of appreciation. It is more sincere that way, and more meaningful.

I really get a kick out of old grumps. What are they so mad about anyways? Who knows? Its just funny to me. So when I disarmed that old mean guy with my smile, I was smiling from amusement and a sincere appreciation for who he was.

Ditto with the Mexican gangster. He probably was a kid who was abandoned by his father and turned to crime out of necessity. He either had to join the gang or get beat up by the gang members every day. Anyway, I saw a lost soul and gave him an smile of pity, of understanding. It was meaningful.

With the accounting client, the woman who met with me was overwhelmed with work. She was burnt out. I could immediately sense that she needed help. I was smiling because I knew that I could help her. It felt good knowing that I could offer a genuinely valuable service to her that would make her life better. Definitely worth smiling about.

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