Are you spending thousands on endeavors just to raise team spirits? While having team building activities do boost morale, one of the best ways to increase employee enthusiasm would only cost you 10-40 calories, and absolutely zero cash out.
Smiling is one of our innate abilities—we were born knowing how to smile and the instinct to reciprocate actions or anything that makes us happy with a genuine smile. This is perhaps why experiencing or seeing a sincere smile resonates so much with us that it immediately improves our moods and reduces stress levels.
At the workplace where stress-hormones flourish alongside shifting moods, a winning smile is usually more than enough to level down tension and crankiness among the employees.
More companies should remember that smiling is a very formidable tool in uplifting employee morale and its main prowess should never be downplayed.
The source of all of what makes smiling such a force to be reckoned with lies on our physiology. The sequence of the muscles being used as the smile forms activates a positive neural response, and in simpler terms, smiling makes us happy.
Regardless if it is a fake or genuine one, the act of smiling changes the brain activity that corresponds to a jolly mood since smiling helps us remember a happy memory.
As an added bonus, the facial activities from smiling signals the brain to lessen or stop producing the stress hormones (cortisol—bad), which brings in the gloomy mood. In lieu of the bad hormones, the feel-good ones–dopamine, endorphin, and serotonin–start flooding in.
The thing about smiling, it is contagious, (especially those with high EQ), and we got the cingulate cortex, a part of our brain, to blame for that. That area in our cerebrums is responsible for unconsciously imitating facial expressions of others from yawning to smiling.
With others seeing and mimicking the smile, they, in turn, triggers the same facial muscles that induce the release of happy thoughts and the feel-good hormones, instantly improving mood and morale.
For a smile to be truly effective for oneself and for it to be successfully passed on to others, flash authentic ones instead of the forced ones. Aside from giving out real smiles, timing is also crucial.
According to science, we can instinctively pick up if a smile is a real one or a faux, but there is a way to hack it. If one could not bring out a real authentic heartfelt kind of smile, it could still be faked to the level that it looks genuine, especially if one knows the mechanics of a true smile.
In a genuine smile, also referred to as Duchenne smile (named after a French neurologist who made significant findings on the science behind a smile), different facial muscles are involved than those of the non-authentic ones.
The fake ones, which scientist referred to as “social smile,” the muscles at the corner of the mouth, zygomaticus major, are activated, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it is authentic. It’s the same smile when someone calls out “Say Cheese!” for a picture.
Duchenne smiles, on the other hand, not only flexes the zygomaticus major muscles, but also the obicularis occuli muscles, the ones that encircle the eyes. They are the same muscles that control the eyelids.
Besides from learning about what makes a smile genuine, one must also understand that choosing the right time for its delivery is also important.
When a person smiles at us, our cingulate cortex tells us to smile back, but at times we override that based on the situation we are. We analyze the circumstances and deem if it is appropriate, and if it’s not, we do not smile back.
Choosing the right time to smile depends on the social norms, culture, and common sense. For example, situations like someone earnestly smiling at us when someone just died, or generally during the times of irreversible misfortunes, are safe to say that smiling back is inappropriate.
Generally, when you’re about to flash your winning smile to lighten the mood, first decide if it is proper or that it does not violate any cultural beliefs (for some countries, smiling is not a gesture of warmth or respect). If it’s socially and culturally acceptable, beam away.
Bringing the above information altogether, here’s a game plan to get it to work for your company:
Step 1: Practice – Get in front a mirror and smile away. Let your instincts kick in and decide on the right proportions of mouth length, angle, and eyelid openness that will make your smile look genuine and not creepy.
Step 2: Smile Like You Mean It – The best way to make any smile look genuine is to actually mean it. Choosing to be happy and looking at the brighter side are habits that could be formed and transform who you are and the people around you.
Step 3: Go Smile Whenever You Can – When greeting colleagues, smile. When answering a call, smile. Regardless if anyone is looking or not, smiling can help those who caught a glimpse of you or even for yourself.
Step 4: Be Consistent – According to research, it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and if you’re not comfy with smiling, you should be in less than a month. By being consistent, you could theoretically exorcise the foul mood and tame the stress levels in the workplace.
Step 5: Be Persistent – When stress-levels and gloominess are off the charts in your workplace, you might not get results right away. Nevertheless, by continuing with your smile campaign, your efforts will eventually take effect.
Besides from boosting the morale at the workplace, smiling also offers additional perks. Here’s what else smiling can do:
If you are not smiling right now, you should. Give it a try. It doesn’t hurt, and chances are, you’ll start to feel better about yourself. Maybe your colleague or the random employee next to you will catch the ‘happiness bug’ and they, in turn, will spread it even more.
Smiles are powerful, free, and extremely beneficial. Whether to boost team spirit or your own mood, it is worthwhile doing it. 🙂
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