Communication Lesson of the Day: Smile

Smile. Smile. Smile. Smile. It lifts our mood, it’s contagious, it relaxes us. On the phone, if you talk while smiling, your tone smooths the edges (this is something I need to work on). Here’s another thing smiling does in a group meeting or interview: it implies a subtle kind of confidence that’s very powerful. Below is a video of Brad Feld in an interview discussing how a start-up raises money. Watch the first three minutes. Observe his body language and gestures. In particular, Brad’s facial expressions and tone of voice (especially when contrasted to the interviewer as her tone comes off as stilted). And even more specifically, observe his smiling, which is natural and fluid and very effective at creating an atmosphere of genuine exchange.

4 comments on “Communication Lesson of the Day: Smile
  • Good point, but I think this chap generally has a smiley, relaxed sort of face, as opposed to a scowly, frowny face 🙂

    There may be some cultural nuances to smiling in serious or formal situations. I do not think Indians smile as much, for instance. The British people also appear more restrained and do not smile in interviews or stiffer, formal work situations.

    Too much smiling could also come off as insincere, mocking or even patronising, especially if it is not the right kind of smile (genuine smiles cause upturns near the eyes, some believe, for instance).

    But you are right that the contrast with the interviewer is noticeable. It is hard to understand why her ‘entrepreneur’ rhymes with ‘manure’ (sorry, that was too distracting).

  • If you smile too much in the UK, depending on your industry, people may just think you’re simple. (Financial services springs to mind.)

    There’s also a gender consideration. I grew up in the midwest, and was raised to smile at all times, whether I wanted to or not. While that was bad child-rearing on my parents’ part, the habit has overall served me well. That said, men can take smiling completely the wrong way. (I’ve noticed that I almost always get a honk or catcall if I happen to be smiling as I walk down the street, which I can’t help but do if I’m thinking of something funny.) Women need to be careful and judicious with their smiles in business.

  • Funny how subjective our impressions are– I had almost the opposite reaction– I found his smile off-putting, and her body language seem relaxed to me.

    Being a person who makes snap judgements (subject to modification if warranted) about people, I would instinctively distrust the guy because of his almost cartoonishly exaggerated smile–it looks smarmy.

    @”That said, men can take smiling completely the wrong way.”

    So true. I have to say, though, that women (strangers I pass in the supermarket aisle, say) appear to be more interested than usual, even sexually aroused, when I’m angry, and not smiling.

    I have that craggy outdoorsman look, so I think maybe it’s something hardwired into women to be attracted to a man having his Rhett Butler in caveman mode moment.

    How ironic, since it’s much more likely I’d be dragging a smitten Ashley (male) back to the cave.

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