How to Make Your Smile Magically Different

In 1936, one of Dale Carnegie’s six musts in How to Win Friendsand Influence People was SMILE! His edict has been echoed eachdecade by practically every communications guru who ever putpen to paper or mouth to microphone. However, at the turn ofthe millennium, it’s high time we reexamine the role of the smilein high-level human relations. When you dig deeper into Dale’sdictum, you’ll find a 1936 quick smile doesn’t always work. Especiallynowadays.The old-fashioned instant grin carries no weight with today’ssophisticated crowd. Look at world leaders, negotiators, and corporategiants. Not a smiling sycophant among them. Key playersin all walks of life enrich their smile so, when it does erupt, it hasmore potency and the world smiles with them.Researchers have catalogued dozens of different types ofsmiles. They range from the tight rubber band of a trapped liar tothe soft squishy smile of a tickled infant. Some smiles are warmwhile others are cold. There are real smiles and fake smiles. (You’veseen plenty of those plastered on the faces of friends who say they’re“delighted you decided to drop by,” and presidential candidates visitingyour city who say they’re “thrilled to be in, uh . . . uh. . . .”)5How to Make YourSmile MagicallyDifferent✰101 (001-042B) part one 8/14/03 9:16 AM Page 5Copyright 2003 by Leil Lowndes. Click Here for Terms of Use.Big winners know their smile is one of their most powerfulweapons, so they’ve fine-tuned it for maximum impact.How to Fine-Tune Your SmileJust last year, my old college friend Missy took over her familybusiness, a Midwestern company supplying corrugated boxes tomanufacturers. One day she called saying she was coming to NewYork to court new clients and she invited me to dinner with severalof her prospects. I was looking forward to once again seeingmy friend’s quicksilver smile and hearing her contagious laugh.Missy was an incurable giggler, and that was part of her charm.When her Dad passed away last year, she told me she was takingover the business. I thought Missy’s personality was a littlebubbly to be a CEO in a tough business. But, hey, what do I knowabout the corrugated box biz?She, three of her potential clients, and I met in the cocktaillounge of a midtown restaurant and, as we led them into the diningroom, Missy whispered in my ear, “Please call me Melissatonight.”“Of course,” I winked back, “not many company presidentsare called Missy!” Soon after the maître d’ seated us, I began noticingMelissa was a very different woman from the giggling girl I’dknown in college. She was just as charming; she smiled as muchas ever. Yet something was different. I couldn’t quite put my fingeron it.Although she was still effervescent, I had the distinct impressioneverything Melissa said was more insightful and sincere. Shewas responding with genuine warmth to her prospective clients,and I could tell they liked her, too. I was thrilled because myfriend was scoring a knockout that night. By the end of the evening,Melissa had three big new clients.6 How to Talk to Anyone01 (001-042B) part one 8/14/03 9:16 AM Page 6Afterward, alone with her in the cab, I said, “Missy, you’vereally come a long way since you took over the company. Yourwhole personality has developed, well, a really cool, sharp corporateedge.”“Uh uh, only one thing has changed,” she said.“What’s that?”“My smile,” she said.“Your what?” I asked incredulously.“My smile,” she repeated as though I hadn’t heard her. “Yousee,” she said, with a distant look coming into her eyes, “when Dadgot sick and knew in a few years I’d have to take over the business,he sat me down and had a life-changing conversation with me. I’llnever forget his words. Dad said, ‘Missy, Honey, remember thatold song, “I Loves Ya, Honey, But Yer Feet’s Too Big”? Well, ifyou’re going to make it big in the box business, let me say, “I lovesya, Honey, but your smile’s too quick.” ’“He then brought out a yellowed newspaper article quoting astudy he’d been saving to show me when the time was right. It concernedwomen in business. The study showed women who wereslower to smile in corporate life were perceived as more credible.”As Missy talked, I began to think about history-makingwomen like Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir,Madeleine Albright, and other powerful women of their ilk. Notone was known for her quick smile.Missy continued, “The study went on to say a big, warm smileis an asset. But only when it comes a little slower, because then ithas more credibility.” From that moment on, Missy explained, shegave clients and business associates her big smile. However, shetrained her lips to erupt more slowly. Thus her smile appearedmore sincere and personalized for the recipient.That was it! Missy’s slower smile gave her personality a richer,deeper, more sincere cachet. Though the delay was less than a secHowto Make Your Smile Magically Different 701 (001-042B) part one 8/14/03 9:16 AM Page 7ond, the recipients of her beautiful big smile felt it was special andjust for them.I decided to do more research on the smile. When you’re inthe market for shoes, you begin to look at everyone’s feet. Whenyou decide to change your hairstyle, you look at everyone’s haircut.Well, for several months, I became a steady smile watcher. Iwatched smiles on the street. I watched smiles on TV. I watchedthe smiles of politicians, the clergy, corporate giants, and worldleaders. My findings? Amid the sea of flashing teeth and partinglips, I discovered the people perceived to have the most credibilityand integrity were just ever so slower to smile. Then, when theydid, their smiles seemed to seep into every crevice of their facesand envelop them like a slow flood. Thus I call the following technique“The Flooding Smile.”Let us now travel but a few inches north to two of the mostpowerful communications tools you possess, your eyes.8 How to Talk to AnyoneTechnique #1The Flooding SmileDon’t flash an immediate smile when you greetsomeone, as though anyone who walked into your lineof sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at theother person’s face for a second. Pause. Soak in theirpersona. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile floodover your face and overflow into your eyes. It willengulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-seconddelay convinces people your flooding smile is genuineand only for them.01 (001-042B) part one 8/14/03 9:16 AM Page 8It’s only a slight exaggeration to say Helen of Troy could launchships with her eyes and Davy Crockett could stare down a bear.Your eyes are personal grenades that have the power to detonatepeople’s emotions. Just as martial arts masters register their fists aslethal weapons, you can register your eyes as psychological lethalweapons when you master the following eye-contact techniques.Beloved people in the game of life look beyond the conventionalwisdom that teaches “Keep good eye contact.” For one, theyunderstand that to certain suspicious or insecure people, intenseeye contact can be a virulent intrusion.When I was growing up, my family had a Haitian housekeeperwhose fantasies were filled with witches, warlocks, andblack magic. Zola refused to be left alone in a room with Louie,my Siamese cat. “Louie looks right through me—sees my soul,”she’d whisper to me fearfully.In some cultures, intense eye contact is sorcery. In others, staringat someone can be threatening or disrespectful. Realizing this,big players in the international scene prefer to pack a book on culturalbody-language differences in their carry-on rather than aBerlitz phrase book. In our culture, however, big winners knowexaggerated eye contact can be extremely advantageous, especially9H

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *