Sometimes the best things in life really are free.
Take a smile.
What’s that worth? Let’s take a look.
Many years ago when I first moved to Japan I would pop over to McDonald’s for lunch from time to time and what surprised me wasn’t the difference in food items (I was used to that from living in Thailand).
No, what did surprise me was one item right at the end of the menu list – a smile.
Cost? Zip. Zilch. Zero.
Now you can’t beat that, can you?!
So along with my order I would always ask for two or three smiles.
No matter which lady took my order they would always gave me a quizzical look and wondered what I was on about so I pointed to the menu at which point they always smiled.
I never heard any other person order a smile, but just having it up there always made me smile.
And then one day it was gone.
And by it, I mean my free smile.
I wonder which bright executive came up with the idea of taking it off the menu.
I must admit that I miss seeing it up there and being able to have a little laugh with whoever’s taking my order.
A simple smile, but it made all the difference to my enjoyment of ordering.
Sure, we know that it’s common etiquette to smile and yet there are times when we forget to.
We worry about our dog’s health. We worry whether we locked our door or not this morning. We worry whether our parents will notice the broken vase. We worry whether our children will get into college.
And all that worry comes across in our faces from time to time in spite of our best efforts.
In Dale Carnegie’s landmark book “How To Win Friends And Influence People” an entire chapter is devoted to this simple, undervalued action.
An entire chapter?! On smiling…maybe he was on to something.
A smile separates us from the non-smilers of which there are more than a few. Too busy with their own troubles to care about others. And yet they are often the people who want others to care about them.
But as the law of sowing and reaping (aka the law of cause and effect) reads; we get back what we put out.
Plant tomatoes, get tomatoes.
Plant corn, get corn.
And as we all know, we get back more than what we put in.
So when we send a smile out into the world, it is bound to come back many times over.
And the best thing about a smile is the effect not on others, but the one it has on ourselves.
Smiling makes us feel better. By creating positive physical actions we are setting off a chain reaction within us – muscles, chemicals, blood flow, etc. Do them long enough and we create positive feelings within ourselves.
Then we have the added bonus of making another person feel better.
Smiling truly is wonderful.
I remember being in my bungalow when the tsunami hit…it’s as clear in my mind today as it was then.
I almost lost my life that day, but each time I’m finished thinking about it, I smile because I’m here today and able to share my ideas with you.
Remember, a day we can wake up to is a good day.
Fix the mistakes you’ve made.
Say I love you to the people you love.
Share that enjoyment with others by smiling.
It’s true that a smile may cost nothing…but it can mean everything.
ps. fingers crossed that more stores introduce the smile idea
pps. I was inspired to write this entry because of the email I got below from Manager Tools so I have left it in its entirety for your perusal.
It’s happened to me thousands of times…but it still surprises and disappoints me.
I’m walking in an office building, in the public spaces or in a client’s office. I’m in an airport, or at my local grocery store. I’m at Wal-Mart. And, because I pass close to someone, near them, walking by, standing in line, our eyes meet.
And they look right at me, know that I see them, and they don’t smile.
Folks, this is rude. It’s not “not rude” if you’re “not the smiling type”. It’s not “not rude” if you find it “uncomfortable”. It’s rude ALWAYS.
This is the price one pays for being in public spaces where you can feel reasonably safe and secure. Civility is the grease that distinguishes us from animals in the wild. Smiling is a basic civil behavior.
When you are in a public space, or some sort of common space, it’s inappropriate to make eye contact with someone and then look away without smiling.
Smile. It’s polite. It’s not weak (hell, it’s powerful!), it’s helpful, and costs you nothing.
More in this vein: when you are asked if you want more coffee, or more water, or to be helped, it’s inappropriate to say, “I’m fine.” It’s not even okay to say, “No thank you, I’m fine.”
The person who is asking has not asked you for a personal update. They haven’t enquired about your well-being. It’s not polite of you, honestly, to offer that. It’s the start of over-sharing.
I’ve heard many of you tell me, well, but I’m trying to be egalitarian… I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, they’re so nice to be taking care of me…These are non-sequiturs.
The right answer, if you don’t want anything, is simply, “no thank you.”
With a smile.
One more thought about smiling: want your children to grow up looking forward to their working lives? [Duh.]
When you get home, tell them about the good parts of your day, and smile when you do it. Being grouchy and tired doesn’t send the right message. And enough of the bitching for heaven’s sake.
If you don’t like your job that much, two choices: Choose to smile and tell them why you value your job – the freedom, the money, the house, the clothes, the warmth in winter, the food.
Or, get a different one.