Science of Smiles for First Impressions & Positive Body Language

What is the most visible body language or facial gesture to create first impression? A smile.

Almost every news program and newspaper are extolling the negative virtues of the world. The economy is crumbling and falling off the fiscal cliff, tragic school shootings, and winter storms. With this lack of civility and negativity, it is sometime difficult to find anything to place a smile on your face. This past spring at an annual Yankee’s ball game I attended with a group of friends, I realized that my life was out of balance. The laughter had stopped. I took inventory and realized I needed to make changes before I became miserable. I had to replace the frown with a smile.

smileWhen you flash a genuine smile at someone, the results are always positive. Studies conclude that people who smile frequently are seen as being more confident and successful, are more likely to strike up conversations with strangers if they are smiling, and bosses are more likely to promote people who smile a lot. The bottom line is that smiles generate a positive response. I feel better when I smile. Even when I am blue and someone is able to elicit a smile, I feel just a tad better for that moment. Smiles are usually reciprocated.

Dr. Paul Ekman, the foremost expert on facial gestures reported that a smile could be observed from 300 feet. I do not know if these people wore glasses or not, but I would agree that a smile is always recognizable. Positive emotions are often associated with smiles, both for the recipient and the deliverer. It is what we all want to see. No one wants to see a frown on the loved ones face or the boss.

Do not be a smile flooder. You want to avoid having the smile attached to your face like a plastic Halloween mask. When you are introduced to a new person, hold on to the release of the smile for just a second and then show the pearly whites. It demonstrates to the recipient that you enjoy their presence.

As we approach someone for the first time and smile, throw in an eyebrow flash or a quick wink. It is a bonding agent. I saw President Reagan do that frequently. He was quick with a smile, but enjoyed giving that wink. That immediately indicates, hey I like you and increases your likeability factor. You do not want to use it in a job interview or to a cop writing a speeding ticket.

The act of smiling releases the feel good endorphins from the brain, which leads to making us feel happier. Paul Ekman and University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson, used brain scans to show that smiling activates some parts of the brain associated with pleasure and happiness. Keep that smile on your face.

For more tips on developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE :



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4 Responses to Science of Smiles for First Impressions & Positive Body Language

  1. Fiona Quinn says:

    Truth is, though I love a truthful smile, I’m a sucker for a wink.

    Cheers, Fiona

    • mike says:

      Fiona, You lovely comment brought a smile to my face. The feel good hormones are rushing through my body filling me with happiness and energy! :))

  2. Andrea says:

    Hi, Mike!
    After I read your book, I decided to test the theory. I spent several hours at a mall, watching people. First I just observed, and most people were lost in their own worlds. I decided to walk around the mall several times, smiling at those who made eye contact, and every one of them returned the smile! I’m such an introvert that it’s kind of horrifying, but it really does work!

    • mike says:

      Hi Andrea,

      Wow! You made my day. I am glad to see that you were able to provided independent confirmation of my thesis in the field. Keep Smiling and making new friends!

      Cheers, Mike

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