Research and human experience suggest that a smile just can’t be ignored.
A good smile is captivating. It draws us in. It’s irresistible. Maybe this is why fashion models on the runway are instructed to keep a straight face. The designers understand that a beautiful smile may the distract the audience, stealing focus from the clothes.
Dan couldn’t understand why people didn’t warm up to him right away. He told me that at first, people seemed distant and doubted his sincerity. Dan was in sales, and this negative first impression was impacting his livelihood. It was confusing for him because he was a really nice person.
After watching Dan on tape, I saw right away what was going on. It was his smile.
To explain what I mean, let me describe the two types of smiles.
The Genuine Smile
Genuine smiles involve the whole face. The corner of the lips curl, they pull back and up showing teeth, and the cheeks are raised so that tiny wrinkles form around the eyes. There is symmetry. The mouth and the eyes signal delight and this occurs naturally, mainly unconsciously.
A genuine smile says, “You can trust me. I am friendly, honest, agreeable, and not a threat.”
The Half Smile
In a halfhearted smile, it’s only the mouth that moves. Teeth are rarely showing and things are a bit asymmetrical. There is no sparkle in the eyes.
A half or false smile causes concern for the recipient because it sends warning signals. The recipient of the smile often has a gut feeling that something is off.
I’ve heard that that the Chinese have a saying: “Never trust a man who smiles only with his mouth.”
Dan told me that he wanted to build rapport with his customers, but he was shy and didn’t want to come on too strong. He didn’t realize that his lukewarm smile was sending the wrong signals.
A genuine smile happens naturally when you are feeling good about an interaction. It’s hard to fake. Dan now sees a genuine, full smile as the best way for him to make a great first impression.
So, how does Dan keep it real? “When I think about how our products can help people, it’s easy to smile. I want my customers to feel that I care about them as people – because I do!”
Keep an eye out for the two types of smiles. This simple signal has a powerful impact on rapport.
All the best,
P.S. – If you have a concern about your first impression, reach out to us. We can help.