This blog was inspired by a post I saw on the social network beBee. The writer was remarking how some people who don’t smile and frown actually have facial expressions stuck that way. It reminded me of a coworker of long ago. She was cranky, grouchy, negative and rarely smiled. Her face was stuck in a permanent frown, even with her resting face. The lines around her mouth were turned down like a perpetual sullen child, forever cracked into her aging skin. I often wondered as I looked at her or listened to her, was it worth it? Worth it to be so negative, glum, sister to Eeyore? Your face is stuck that way!
The funny thing is, she reported to me. I say funny because I don’t have a lot of tolerance for negativity at work. (What’s the point? If you aren’t happy on the job, leave. Don’t infect the rest of us.) The other funny part is while I don’t tolerate constant negativity out in the open, I will listen to negative concerns privately.(As a supervisor, I will listen. As an equal, I don’t like to be involved with gossip and negativity on the job) I also appreciate that negative people can take the Devil’s advocate side, and I like to hear all sides of a solution or procedure before we implement it.
So, ironically, while I’m going on about a negative side of her, let me talk about the positive side. She was incredibly smart, with a dry sense of humor. We actually had a lot of interests in common, certain movies, certain type of humor, a love of books, a love of history, a love of art and a love of travel. Seeing her positives helped me deal with the negativity. As her supervisor, while I often addressed her grouchiness and/or negativity, I also understood that the negativity is who she was. Like the color of her brown eyes, or her freckles, she couldn’t or didn’t want to change that part of her. I couldn’t force her to change, but I could address it when she crossed the line with customers or coworkers. (She had worked at the company for a long time, and no one had documented her behavior. I also inherited her. Everyone would say, oh well, that’s how “Shirley” is. Not me. Either she was going to get it or not.)
I documented every coaching conversation with her. It took awhile, but eventually the conversations and write ups became a thick file. Still, I was always patient and respectful to her. Eventually she figured out that I wasn’t giving in, and she decided to retire.
What’s the big deal about smiling?
- I know I feel better when I smile and really mean it.
- My customers brighten up.
- I hope I cheered up my customer if they need it.
- I know customers can tell when I smile while talking on the phone, so I do it all the time.
- I smile at strangers, a hard thing for me to do. (I don’t want to be seen as a crazy creeper!) But I love the human connection when they smile back.
- I get compliments all the time about my smile. Who doesn’t love a compliment?
- It’s healthy for your brain and emotions.
- It’s an act of kindness.
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Teresa
PS-the picture is me and my youngest daughter, smiling because we are so happy to be at a baseball game!