The power of a smile

Photo credit - various photographers via

Photo credit – various photographers via

The gesture of smiling is a powerful one. It engages others and can be the first step in communicating. If someone smiles at you – you generally smile back. There can be much more at stake with a smile though.

How we use smiles
Dale Carnegie, author of “How to win friends and influence people” suggests that smiling is central to developing connections. These include:
  • building rapport – a smile within a conversation makes people feel comfortable
  • breaking down barriers – a smile is welcoming and engaging, eliminating doubts and and concerns
  • inspiring and giving hope – as an expression of appreciation, a smile can motivate others and inspire them to do more
    (Bill Schoenberg, 2013)
 Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.’
~ Dale Carnegie

A smile shows support
Staff (doctors, nurses and others) in a group of hospitals were trained to make eye contact and smile at people who walked down the hospital hallways within three metres of them. After six months, a significant increase in patient visits was noted. With this came an increase in referrals for quality of care and elevated employee engagement (Achor & Gielan, 2015).

What the staff learnt? That a smile – which takes a second to do – shows that everyone is connected and positive behaviour can have an impact on others. This social support led to happier employees and more satisfied clients.

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
~ Mother Teresa

Benefits of smiling
Various researchers have made claims on the impact of smiling, including:

  • Smiling can make you look younger
  • Smiling can make you look thinner
  • Smiling elevates your mood and creates a sense of well-being
  • Smiling induces more pleasure in the brain more than chocolate
  • Even a forced smile can lead to a mood boost
  • Smiles can predict fulfilment in marriage
  • Smiling makes you seem courteous, likeable, and competent
  • The span of a person’s smile can predict life span
  • Smiling is contagious
    (Selig, 2016)

A smile can facilitate many things – ease of communication, positive exchanges and enhanced performance. Some suggest that a smile engages fewer muscles and requires less effort than frowning. So, it would seem that winners are grinners all round. What do you think?


  1. Achor, Shawn. 2012. “Positive Intelligence” in Harvard Business Review. January-February 2012.
  2. Achor, Shawn & Gielan, Michelle. 2015. “Consuming Negative News Can Make You Less Effective at Work” in Harvard Business Review, 14 September 2015.
  3. Schoenberg, Bill. 2013. The power of a smile in Dale Carnegie blog, 27 August 2013.
  4. Selig, Meg. 2016. “The 9 Superpowers of Your Smile” in Psychology Today, 25 May 2016.

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