Do you think smiling could make you look less professional?

I have encountered people who think smiling may impact the way others will perceive you, and not in a good way — in a professional setting, as in a work environment. You might not seem serious, they think. 

To tell you the truth, when I heard this, I was astonished to learn that some people may consider smiling could hurt your professionalism.

So here I am. 

In the classic, “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie, Carnegie had a whole chapter dedicated to “Smile”. 

A smile is definitely a good thing, but here is the thing. When done properly, it would maximize its impact — in that professional setting.

Smiling is professional and here is why. 

1. A smile helps you make great first impressions 

“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.”

Dale Carnegie

Whether you are going to an interview, meeting an important client or catching up with an old friend, smile. Infusing positivity as a start lays out a welcoming approach, making people more receptive of what you have to say. 

“Professor James V. McConnell, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, expressed his feelings about a smile. “People who smile,” he said, “tend to manage teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children. There’s far more information in a smile than a frown. That’s why encouragement is a much more effective teaching device than punishment.”” ― Dale Carnegie

The smile is so powerful that its effect, given it is sincere, can be felt through the phone, without actually seeing the person. I bet even with texting, but to not sure about that. 

“The effect of a smile is powerful — even when it is unseen. Telephone companies throughout the United States have a program called “phone power” which is offered to employees who use the telephone for selling their services or products. In this program they suggest that you smile when talking on the phone. Your “smile” comes through in your voice.― Dale Carnegie

2. A smile helps you strengthen relationships 

I learned a few tricks from Leil Lownde. In her book How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, she agrees with Dale Carnegie — she also tells us to smile but added a tiny little trick to the act. What is it? She said to chill with the smile — to take your time before splashing out the smile.


When you take your time before splashing that smile, it maximizes the impact of your smile. Not only are you telling that person you are glad to see him, but it gives the impression that you are especially glad to see him, specifically him, only him. Not someone else, but for him… and don’t we all like to feel special? 

“The old-fashioned instant grin carries no weight with today’s sophisticated crowd. Look at world leaders, negotiators, and corporate giants. Not a smiling sycophant among them. Key players in all walks of life enrich their smile so, when it does erupt, it has more potency and the world smiles with them. Researchers have catalogued dozens of different types of smiles. They range from the tight rubber band of a trapped liar to the soft squishy smile of a tickled infant. Some smiles are warm while others are cold. There are real smiles and fake smiles. (You’ve seen plenty of those plastered on the faces of friends who say they’re “delighted you decided to drop by,” and presidential candidates visiting your city who say they’re “thrilled to be in, uh . . . uh. . . .”)” — Leil Lownde

Big winners know their smile is one of their most powerful weapons, so they’ve fine-tuned it for maximum impact.”

– Leil Lownde

Sounds good, but how?

Leil didn’t leave us without a tip. After all, her book is all about tricks.

The Flooding Smile — Technique

Don’t flash an immediate smile when you greet someone, as though anyone who walked into your line of sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at the other person’s face for a second. Pause. Soak in their persona. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.” —  Leil Lownde

Smile like Dale Carnegie said, but take your time when you do it. That’s it. Simple.

3. A smile works like magic when it comes to selling, even if it was through an image 

Roger Dooley in his book Brainfluence mentioned that a smile helps in

  1. Increasing sales — as in volume, and 
  2. How much $$$ customers are willing to pay 

The power of a smile is so strong that its mere existence of it in an image would increase the likelihood of closing a sale.

“A study done a few years ago by Piotr Winkielman of the University of California, San Diego, and Kent C. Berridge of the University of Michigan showed that even subliminal smile images could have a significant effect. The researchers showed subjects a picture of a neutral face that was neither smiling or unsmiling for a little less than half a second. That’s long enough to recognize the face and identify its gender, which is what the subjects were supposed to do. The researchers also inserted a very brief image of a smiling or scowling face. This image was shown for only 16 milliseconds. The subjects were unaware of the smile/scowl image they had been exposed to and were neither more nor less positive. Despite this, subjects who were thirsty served themselves more of a beverage and drank more if they saw a happy face. The Price of a Smile A second phase of the study showed that thirsty subjects would pay about twice as much for the same beverage if they saw a happy face instead of an angry one.”  — Dooley, Roger. Brainfluence

Ok. Let’s say you are in a bad mood, what would you do? 


We believe that our feelings precede our actions, but feelings can actually follow actions. We only have to give it a try.

“You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Two things. First, force yourself to smile. If you are alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy. Here is the way the psychologist and philosopher William James put it: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.” ― Dale Carnegie

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