Communication Skills | Relationship Advice


smile: 1. to display a facial expression that customarily indicates pleasure, friendliness, or amusement. 2. to express or appear to express approval or kindness. 3. as it applies to this book, the simplest and often most effective way to begin almost any face-to-face interaction with another person.

You're Another Step Closer To Unleashing The Winner Within! Unfriendly habits make other people feel uneasy right from the start. Your job as a master communicator is to greet every person you meet in a friendly manner so that they can feel the natural warmth of your kindness, acceptance, and recognition. Except for the more serious circumstances, a warm and enthusiastic smile creates the best starting point for a mutually enjoyable conversation.

When you walk into any Wal-Mart department store in the United States or Canada, you'll be greeted quickly in many cases by a smiling employee who hands you a shopping cart and says, "Hello, welcome to Wal-Mart." These "people greeters," as Wal-Mart calls them, take care of the store entrance appearance along with welcoming customers as they come in to shop.

Wal-Mart is a Fortune 500 company that has become known for its friendly "people greeters." As far back as 1968, Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, understood that people entering his stores are choosing to spend their hardearned money with him. Walton wanted to show these customers how much he appreciated their business.


We could all learn a simple lesson for success that WalMart has been demonstrating for many years: Begin every interaction with a friendly greeting. A smile and a sincere "hello" won't cost you any money, but their emotional effect on people is, without a doubt, priceless.


According to Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, there are two kinds of smiles, the "Duchenne smile" and the "Pan American smile." Dr. Seligman describes these two smiles in the following way:

"The first smile called Duchenne smile (named after researcher Guillaume Duchenne) is genuine. The corners of the mouth turn up and the skin around the corners of your eyes crinkle. The other smile, called the Pan American smile (named after the flight attendants in television advertisements for the now-defunct airline), is inauthentic."

In our own lives, we've all tried to smile for a photograph by saying the word "cheese." But when we finally see that photograph, the smile may not look authentic because genuine emotion perhaps was not present. In other words, we offered a "Pan American" or "professional" smile to the camera lens.


A few months ago, I hired a professional photographer to take some new shots of me for my upcoming publicity campaign. I met the photographer at his studio for about an hour. After we finished with our photo session, he told me that he was going to touch up the final images before sending them back for approval.

When the photos finally arrived at my home a week later, I was really disappointed to find that there wasn’t a single shot that I actually liked. All of the photos appeared to me to show the same thing --- a forced smile with no genuine emotion. In the end, this particular photo session had turned out to be a complete waste of time and money.

On the recommendation of friend in the book industry, I hired another photographer named Dave who turned out to be a really fun and likeable guy. We took a bunch of new photos --- some serious and others with me just clowning around. It turned out later that some of my best shots were the ones of me playing around for the fun of it.

An example of one of these better pictures appears on the opposite page. I'm holding a volleyball in the same pose that professional beach volleyball players take for some of their promotional photos. The smile on my face is real because I'm genuinely having a fun time posing like a pro when in fact I play the sport like a true amateur.

The point here is that you must possess inner feelings of warmth, excitement, and joy in order to radiate a genuine smile. When you have real positive emotion behind your smile, you can be more effective with other people than you would be by acting with only politeness or courtesy.

Remember, by beginning in a friendly manner with a true eagerness to share, you will be developing one of the smartest communication habits for establishing or building important personal and professional relationships.


As a rule of thumb, it's best to start off any interaction in a friendly way. True, there can be exceptions to this rule when the situation is serious, hostile or grim. But, overall, strive to get rid of any unfriendly habits. This will help improve your interactions with others immensely.

Here are some important reminders of things to do in order to start your conversations in a friendlier manner:

Be the first one to offer a greeting . Many people have a natural tendency to avoid making the first move when it comes to greeting someone. After all, you can avoid rejection and disapproval by simply choosing not to engage at all. But this behavior can be easily interpreted by other people to mean that you're acting unfriendly towards them. One of the simplest ways to develop more amiable habits is to be the first one to address people instead of waiting for them to reach out to you.

Begin with a friendly smile . Take off on the right foot by starting your friendly interaction with a warm smile. This often causes the other person to smile in response. While smiling may not come naturally to you during the course of a difficult day, make sure that in the brief moment that you first engage someone that you at least suspend your negative thoughts. Then give the other person a smile of approval, which may also have the positive side-benefit of perking yourself up as well.

Remember to smile with your eyes . If your smile looks phony to other people, they'll think that you don't mean it. When you greet others with a less than genuine smile, it doesn't signal that you like or approve of them. Instead, it conveys that you're only acting polite or being courteous towards them. As mentioned earlier, a real smile includes the tightening of the muscles around the eyes while a fake one only involves the muscles around the mouth. If you want to smile like you mean it, make sure that your eyes are sending the same message as your mouth.

Develop a first-class greeting . Do you ever notice how easily some people can come up to you, look you in the eyes, smile, shake your hand or give you a hug, and say, "It's great to see you"? I'm sure you can also recall other times when people have hardly acknowledged you and this made you wonder if these people don't like you for some unknown reason. If your goal is to get rid of your old unfriendly habits, then get comfortable with an assortment of greetings and friendly gestures that you can use at the start of every interaction. Watch others for ideas.

Talk in a friendly tone. In addition to easily offering a greeting, warm smile and kind gestures, make sure that the words you choose are said in friendly tones. Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found that as much as 38% of communication is made by vocal tones alone! This means that if the tone of your voice is not friendly, the people you meet will not feel the full effect of your warmth and acceptance no matter what words you actually say.

Act like you're happy to see them. When you're happy and excited to encounter another person, your natural warmth and enthusiasm come out easily. But there may be times when you might be preoccupied with other concerns and fail to show your delight about being in the presence of others. In this latter case, it would be easy to misinterpret your lack of warmth for being unfriendly rather than with being preoccupied with your own problems. The solution is to pay close attention to other people in the greeting process so that you can act warmly towards them. Do this instead of remaining in your own funk and causing people to wonder why you don't seem pleased about seeing them.

Remember to say their name. A simple technique that many people use in the business world is to remember to say a person's name several times during the course of a conversation. Dale Carnegie, author of How To Win Friends And Influence People, wrote, "Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." The trick here is to avoid using this technique excessively or in an awkward manner where it appears too contrived. But if you can do this elegantly, it accomplishes two primary objectives: (1) it is appreciated by the other person, and (2) it helps you remember the other person's name for future references.

When you see the value in other people and can remain in a positive emotional state, it's easy to begin your conversations in a friendly manner. In addition, it's important to focus on breaking your unfriendly habits and establishing new ones like those above in order to make your greetings a well-received automatic habit.


One of the first tasks that you have to do is to identify your old unfriendly habits. Do you tend to avoid eye contact, walk around with a constant frown on your face, or wait for other people to say "hello" first? I'm sure that we've all done some of this from time to time, but the important thing here is to realize how these kinds of undesirable habits can ruin our own sense of joy and self-confidence.

For the next few days, try smiling at people who you don't know and even say, "Hello!" on occasion. Notice how good you begin to feel inside about this new behavior and attitude toward others. Now pay attention when other people smile and look you in the eyes. Don't those simple acts of kindness and acceptance make you feel terrific as well?

People are very much the same. A simple act of friendliness causes people to naturally reciprocate in kind. And that sets off a pattern of behavior that's constructive to establishing healthy new relationships and improving the ones that you already have.


Remember that in order to "talk like a winner" in the broadest sense, you must "smile like a winner" as well. All you have to do is follow a simple and powerful rule: Begin each conversation in a friendly way. Once you know and understand the significance of this essential part of successful communication, it's only a matter of practicing and testing it every day in your own life until it becomes a new habit.

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