A Genuine Smile For A Guaranteed Sale

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 22, 2009

The Saturday afternoon traffic was backed up three or four cars in each direction. The busy intersection was controlled by four stop signs. The car approaching from the opposite direction commenced a left turn. Anticipating passing through the intersection as it completed the turn, we proceeded.

A second car from the opposite direction, an expensive sports sedan, ran the stop sign as it raced to follow the first car making the left turn. Stopped in mid intersection it was hard not to miss the arrogant look on the face of the driver.

If you’re not careful, it’s the sort of little incident that can raise your blood pressure for no good reason. The drivers familiar face and the initialed license plates indicated he was a prominent high technology executive, probably in town for a “relaxing” weekend.

Not more than a few days later another car continued through a stop sign and proceeded to merged in front of us. As the car rolled through the stop sign, the driver waved through the open window and shrugged his shoulder with a smile on his face as if to say, “I know I’m wrong but I’m in a hurry, sorry.”

The second driver’s friendly gesture caused us to react quite differently. Two similar incidents, but two different reactions. Why? It’s the difference between an arrogant scowl and a friendly smile.

It’s not just a smile. We all know the difference between a friendly smile and an artificial grin, and it’s a big difference. The friendly smile says “I’m one of you guys.” The grin is uncomfortably insincere and says, “I’m better than you and I’m getting paid to do this.”

A friendly smile can significantly impact the result of most anything you do. A smile is something that you can’t buy. But put a smile on your face and I guarantee you’ll be able to sell a lot more. You’ll feel better and so will the people around you.

Some of the most successful business people I have known, individuals I have admired for a number of reasons, are smilers. Is their friendly disposition a result of their success or a contributor to it?

Others carry great burdens but have the strength to maintain a smile. It’s makes both them and those around them feel better. It’s not always easy to smile, but in the long run it’s successful.

As a flight student, I can remember certain instructors that we called “screamers”. At your slightest mistake, the control stick would shake and the cockpit would reverberate with high decibel comments concerning your family’s ancestors.

Other instructors got the same message across, usually more effectively, in a pleasant manner. They just seemed happy to be alive and flying airplanes. They took things in stride and went about correcting mistakes with a “smile”.

Uncle Sam paid both the “screamers” and the “smilers” the same. But if it had been a free market system, the “smilers” would have all the customers. The “screamers” would have gone out of business and probably would have never figured out why. After all, they were just as good a pilots.

There is a mistaken impression in business that serious subjects require serious faces. Serious faces have been interpreted to be a sort of knowledgeable, professional scowl.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Show me the individual that can enter a meeting with a smile and put a room full of people at ease, and I’ll show you a winner.

It’s a difficult world and it’s not always easy to have a smile. But remember, it’s not so easier for the other guy either. That’s preciously the reason that a smile is so valuable. Smiles are contagious. They make feel people good and we all like that.

You can say “no” more effectively with a smile. Nobody likes being told “no” and most people don’t like having to say “no”. It’s a difficult and stressful moment. But even a “no”, delivered in an understanding manner and accompanied with a compassionate smile, will often lead to a better relationship.

It wasn’t too long ago that the competitive, workaholic, Type A personality was thought to be unhealthy. Type As were believed to be especially prone to heart attacks and other aliments. Recent research seems to indicate that only the hostility associated with the Type A personality is unhealthy.

It’s near impossible to have a genuine friendly smile while you’re felling hostile. The addition of a smile will make that competitive work all that much more productive and you’ll be happier and live longer to enjoy it.

Because it’s your business, smile. You’ll make more money, live longer, and be happier.

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