“I like you a lot more when you smile,” one friend says to another.
“Your smile is contagious,” a customer says to a retail associate.
“When you’re smiling the whole world smiles with you,” the classic Louis Armstrong song goes.
It’s true. People appreciate being around other people who smile. There are good reasons for that.
Smiles create perceptions of a friendlier social atmosphere. Smiles communicate feelings of confidence, security and well-being. Smiling can also suggest you are enthusiastic to be in the presence of another person, welcome their conversation and are open to collaboration and communication.
Smiling does all that so easily, it is amazing we are not more attuned to the practice of smiling as a rule.
Sometimes we don’t need to be reminded to smile. Smiling is both a natural reaction to things you like, but smiling is also a learned art.
It is no surprise that contestants in beauty pageants, popular politicians and other public figures know how to smile so well. Making a positive impression is important when you are in the spotlight. But is it true for everyday people as well?
You’ve heard the phrase, “He’s got a winning smile!” Well, smiling is what Olympians generally do when they’ve worked so long and performed well enough to earn a medal. They smile and hold up their flowers, kiss their medals and wave their flags in the air. Smiling is a clear communication that you are a winner. And people like to be around other winners. It makes them want to be on your team.
Contrast the atmosphere where people are smiling with situations in which everyone is straight-faced and dire. Yes, many business situations are serious, and smiling is not always appropriate. If the negotiations are difficult, things are going to proceed along serious lines. But when the deal’s done and both parties shake hands, a smile is generally the reward for having done a good, fair job in business.
Now turn the situation around for a moment. If you begin your meetings with a smile, you send conscious and unconscious messages that things are well, and that a friendly negotiation or transaction is about to transpire. Smiles are known to decrease stress and anxiety. Smiling even releases chemicals in your body that work just like the endorphins you get from running or exercising.
Are you even more attractive when you smile? A study in the European Journal of Social Psychology suggests that really is the case.
But let’s face it, to enjoy smiling and its many benefits, you need to have confidence in your smile. For some people, that can be a tough hurdle. If your smile has been compromised in some way by an accident, by family genetics leading to crooked or discolored teeth, or by dental challenges over the years that left your teeth and smile less than healthy-looking, it may be wise to consider what you can do to turn your smile from a drawback to a benefit.
Having healthy, white, straight teeth are the most important aspects of a nice smile. Orthodontics can often accomplish wonders. So can basic cleaning of your teeth, since many common smile problems arise from cumulative impacts of things we eat and drink, such as coffee, sodas, sweets or red wines. It is ironic that many of the foods that make us smile can harm our physical smile.
To have confidence that your smile is in the best shape it can be, all it takes is a visit to your dentist to let them solve your whitening-related challenges. Then you can smile to your heart’s content and make everyone around you feel better as well.
About the author:
Dr. Joseph Zelig, D.D.S., is a Board Certified Periodontist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. A practicing periodontist, speaker and educator, Dr. Zelig is currently practicing at Smile in the City located in Manhattan, New York.