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Is it me or is it becoming rarer and rarer to see people smiling these days? On our trip over to the UK last weekend we encountered a variety of people – airline staff, shop assistants, restaurant servers and car park attendants, to name but a few. Of all those people only person stood out in our minds after the weekend was over. She served us in W H Smiths in Copenhagen airport – she was courteous, professional, swift and smiled at us with a big beaming genuine smile! She was the ONLY person who smiled!! Everyone else just stared at us blankly, gazed at their feet instead of looking at us or looked plain grumpy. It was like the parade of the 7 dwarfs minus Happy!

A genuine smile is an expression of pleasure, joy, happiness, connection or amusement that is understood by everyone, despite culture, race, or religion. Cross-cultural studies have shown that smiling is a means of communicating emotions, with some variation in meaning, throughout the world.

We’ve all heard of “Service with a Smile” – a core business concept, especially strong in the US, that has been around as far back as the beginning of the 1900’s. Research proves that people who smile produce what is called the “halo effect”, which produces greater trust, greater financial earnings and increased interpersonal cooperation and collaboration.

So why the heck don’t we all smile more?

A simple smile can convey a welcome. It can demonstrate caring, respect, patience, empathy, hospitality and compassion. For stressed service people smiling at a stressed customer, and listening closely, has been reported to result in total customer satisfaction. In turn, customers that smile have been shown to receive more help. The smile of a stranger produces a positive reaction in the receiver. And when you smile, even memory retrieval can be enhanced!

Doesn’t it feel good to make a stranger smile? And even better to make someone you know smile? “Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”