Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just Smile

A big part of my job is client interaction. I deal with people as low on the totem pole as first year accounting clerks and as high as CFOs. I’ve met probably 100 or so professionals in my 2 years at my job. One thing I’ve noticed is that the people at the top smile a lot more.

I consider client interaction one of my strong points. I am not great at it by any means and have a long way to go in terms of becoming excellent at it. How to Win Friends and Influence Others has gone a long way in improving my communication as well as organizations where I have been allowed to speak such as Toastmasters. When you carry a positive attitude with you it carries over to the people you interact with. I make it a point to say hello to people and pop in even when I don’t have a request. This allows me to develop a relationship with someone.

Probably my number 1 pet peeve is the pursed lip smile. I mostly see it in passing as I walk by. It is the closed lip smirk that conveys “I hate being here, and you probably do too… we’re in this together”. My thought is always if that is how you feel why are you still working here? If you catch yourself doing this then stop immediately! You aren’t tricking anyone into smiling.

Everyone has days when they find it hard to smile. So how do you create a good smile even when it’s not necessarily your natural reaction? First and foremost always smile with your mouth slightly open and show your teeth. This is actually something primates do as well and subconsciously lets the other person know that you mean them no harm and are willing to help them if necessary. Making eye contact conveys confidence and genuineness.

As I advance in the professional environment I’ve learned that it’s really the details such as smiling that make a big difference in how far you go professionally. Make it a point to mind the little things and over your career you will see big results.

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