Sandy, a VP of marketing called me with a frustrating tale. She told me there was talk at work about “the smile thing” and it was making everyone grumpy.
Here's the skinny on smiling: if you are a woman in the workplace and you smile a lot you are seen as “less willing to lead”. This comes from recent research in Germany that indicated both men and women question women’s leadership abilities when they appear too pleasant.
Talk about stereotypes...Germany is not known as the smiling center of the universe!
I added that last sentence to show the waste of time these silly little bits of research indicate. There are sulky women, there are happy women, there are pouty men and there are men with gusto. Many Germans have fun written on their faces while others are locked in the doldrums.
Here is a tip for all leaders, all over the world: smile and feel better!
1. Exercise your lips: When you put a smile on your face, the muscles around your lips cooperate in releasing neurotransmitters called endorphins that make us feel happy.
2. Fake it if you must: The brain does not differentiate between a genuine smile and a fake one; endorphins are released either way.
3. Endorphins up, cortisol down: When we smile or laugh, the stress hormone cortisol that makes us feel anxious is reduced.
4. Laugh exercise: Go ahead, just start to laugh. Even better, with someone else; it is infectious and you expand your lungs to get more oxygen, just like you were jogging.
Forget the stereotypes and smile a while to give your whole body some positive nourishment!
In our GUTSY WOMEN WEEKEND November 1-3, we will banish stereotypes and replace them with healthy ways to show what real leadership is all about.
Tomorrow: More on stereotypes that are a waste of time. Remember, MEN CAN BE GUTSY TOO!