As Guy Kawasaki says, don’t be afraid of the crow’s feet. That’s right, the most sincere smile is a Duchenne smile (named for French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne) that lights up your eyes and shows off your pearly whites.
Guy is a powerful influencer and speaker – and his Duchenne smile (and crow’s feet) are part of the likability equation. When we smile, it makes us more human and helps us connect on a human level. I love how this article in HBR ties human need for connection to leadership.
We work with a lot of executives who try to strike the balance between warmth and competence. The natural inclination of many professionals is to lead with competence – so they can prove their position and expertise. But for leaders, it turns out warmth is critical.
According to social psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, “Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and communication and absorption of ideas.” When people perceive you as warm, you’ll almost automatically be more influential because we trust people we that we like—and part of being likable means showing it.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The simplest way to add warmth is to smile. So many people think that to be taken seriously you have to be serious all the time—when it’s actually the opposite. Smiling boosts others’ perception of you – and your competence. We don’t mean a cheesy, ear-to-ear, used car salesman grin—instead, think about it as lightening up your face. Lift your cheeks and smile with your eyes.
Who else can you think of who smiles with their eyes?