People who smile live longer. They are more likely to stay married. And, apparently, they are more likely to lose a physical fight (despite the belief some have that teeth baring is a sign of aggression.) But will smiling make you a better investment professional?
The latest CFA Institute practice analysis highlighted that there is a rising preference for investment professionals who have been trained in the soft skills. The number crunching can be outsourced to Fintech. To stand out and relate to clients, we also need to be well versed in the skills of winning friends and influencing people.
I recently took a Dale Carnegie course, and one reason I am writing the soft skills series is to strengthen the material I learned in that class. And Carnegie's fifth principle is, you guessed it, smile. "An insincere grin?" he asks. "No. That doesn't fool anybody." It has to be a genuine smile, one that crinkles the wearer's eyes and warms the receiver's heart.
Many studies have indicated that smiling can actually cause happiness (though other studies failed to replicate the result.) I for one do feel happier when I choose to smile, regardless of how I felt initially. And for me, that is really all that matters.
On a video, influence and pre-suasion master Robert Cialdini discusses why it is important to find a reason to smile broadly. The technique is particularly brilliant because our brains are wired to seek confirmation - so if you actively look for reasons to smile you are practically guaranteed to find them.
So smiling can be a way of influencing ourselves to be happier. But what is its mechanism when it comes to influencing others? Cialdini has broken out seven "weapons of influence:" reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, scarcity, and unity. Smiles tap into several of these weapons.
Liking is perhaps the most obvious. We tend to smile at things we like, and that is a signal to others that we like them. Which of course leads to reciprocation. When we see that someone offers us something we tend to want to return the favor. Sometimes we repay in kind, other times in other ways. By reciprocating the smile we trigger unity - acting together. And because we have made an initial commitment of showing liking, consistency dictates that we would tend to follow through with continued liking.
But perhaps most importantly, as anyone who has walked down a crowded street can probably attest, is scarcity. As easy as it is to smile, the smile remains a scarce commodity and is thus all the more prized when given genuinely.
I encourage you to make it your mission to find reasons to smile.