It’s a lovely Monday morning, but you are feeling gloomy as you enter your office, making a mental list of things that have to be done. You greet your colleagues, who are equally preoccupied, with a nod. Then one of your peers smiles at you, and you find yourself smiling back. That’s all it takes – a smile – to make you smile back and relax for a bit.
A smile is also a great stress-buster, like laughter, and that’s one reason why you should smile in your office, especially if you are having a stressful day. It’s as important to be happy at your workplace as in your personal life and here’s why:
1. Happiness increases productivity: Smiling and happiness usually go together. The first sign of being cheerful is a smile on your face, and, probably, a song on your lips. And, being happy makes you 12% more productive, as per a study conducted at the University of Warwick, UK, in 2014. According to one of the economists who led the research, happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality. When you are happy, a bubbling positive energy fills you, which results in more work in less time. It also brings out your creative best. So, smile more. Why withhold something that is so good for you?
2. Don’t be a grouch: Every office has a Mr. Grouchy (or Miss Grouchy) who is never happy and doesn’t have a single nice thing to say. Our mood and attitude affects those around us. If you complain often, your colleagues will soon start avoiding you. So, smile and be cheerful. It will endear you to your colleagues, and you’ll be a bright spot in an otherwise dreary environment. Mere mention of your name will make people smile, as they’ll remember how it feels to be around you. People will like working with you, or for you. Hence, a manager who is fun-loving, approachable and takes the team out for treats is likely to get better results than the one who is grouchy and demanding.
3. Smiling can diffuse tension: In case you find yourself in a situation where tempers are flying, a smile can come to your rescue. I remember a situation where an editor was holding a meeting with his team and pointing out errors made in the day’s newspaper. With every page he turned, his voice got louder and the room filled with tension. Finally, one team member looked at the editor, smiled and politely apologized. That simple smile broke the tension. The editor mellowed out and moved on to a different subject.
[Caution: If you smile at the wrong moment, it can be easily misconstrued for sarcasm or arrogance. Discretion advised!]
4. It creates a positive environment: Theologian Albert Schweitzer had said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.” And so, happiness must be made an integral part of the work culture. Smiling is contagious, and when everyone is smiling, it creates a positive environment. Even if there are a few employees who are not happy, the general positivity will cheer them up. The overall productivity will increase and the company will prosper, thereby creating more reasons for the employees to be happy. It’s a virtuous cycle, happy employees make for a happy company.
What to do when you are blue?
Even in a cheery environment, everyone is going to have a bad day. So, what do you do when you’re feeling blue?
Force yourself to smile. While smiling may seem like an after-effect of being happy, sometimes the act of smiling can make you feel happy. In the words of psychologist William James: “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.”
You can also put on some peppy music, watch some funny videos, think of a happy moment, or look at pictures of things you love. Something is bound to make a shift in your feelings. After all, to quote Aristotle, happiness depends upon ourselves. So, keep smiling.