Today is World Smile Day!
It’s widely understood that smiling is a good thing. A smile is considered one of the most fundamental, biologically consistent human expressions, and its meaning is universally recognized among varying languages and cultures. Smiling is evolutionarily contagious, and we have a subconscious innate drive to smile when we see one.
In fact, a 2009 study out of Echnische Universität in Munich Germany used Functional MRI to measure regions in the brain that handle emotional processing. They scanned before and after injecting Botox to suppress smiling muscles. Their findings revealed that facial feedback (such as imitating a smile) actually modifies the neural processing of emotional content in the brain, meaning our brain is activated when we smile!
Your body and brain like it when you smile. When a smile flashes across your face; dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are released into your bloodstream, making your body relax and helping to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Did you know that your smile doesn’t even have to be real for you to feel the positive effects of smiling? That’s right. You can even fake a smile, and your brain will still react. (We’re not talking about a condescending or snide smile.)
Smiling also changes people’s perceptions of us. When someone is smiling they also appear to be more likeable, courteous and even more competent. Side note: Smiling should be contained to a regular smile, rather than an over-the-top and bubbly smile, as some studies show that being too bubbly could cause you to be taken less seriously.
Did you also know that you can actually hear a smile? Scientists at the University of Portsmouth discovered that humans can differentiate vocal intonation between a smile and a non-smile, and also among different types of smile. They concluded that smiling has such an effect on how we speak that listeners can actually identify the type of smile based on sound alone.
So, your customers do indeed hear your smile. And it is scientifically backed to conclude that smiling over the phone can affect the outcome of your phone call.
Next time you start to make a call, smile before picking up the phone. Doing so will establish a “pleasant mode” before you even begin your conversation. It could help alleviate some of your nerves, too, if it’s a call you’ve been dreading.
If the call begins to head South, turn your frown upside down and smile. Smiling changes the tone of your voice by adding warmth, which could help diffuse a negative situation. Tone of voice is 85% of your message and is a key factor in its delivery.
Additional research conducted by German and French scientists discovered that genuine smiles convey trustworthiness. Being able to covertly communicate trustworthiness over the phone could be especially helpful when on a call with someone who doesn’t know you very well just yet.
As an added bonus, this study concluded that subjects with real smiles were also judged to be more attractive and more intelligent, too.
So practice that genuine smile, master those sales and customer service calls, and get the world smiling with you.