There’s a lot of things about this whole pandemic that I dislike. Of course, the quarantines and isolations, the closing of restaurants and the shortage of toilet paper, the masks and the 6’ distancing rules are all frustrating and feel like science-fiction at times.
From a leadership standpoint, there are few things worse than losing the smile.
We no longer see those smiles that brighten our days, encourage us to move forward, and provide acceptance in times of uncertainty. The masks have covered more than our face. Now, our emotions are often hidden as well. Making what was once a warm, comforting interaction cold and rigid.
Why Should We Care? Feedback as a leader is critical. And, the sooner we can receive it the quicker we can modify our words and actions. The lack of facial expressions make that much more difficult.
As a classroom teacher and coach, I am constantly reading body language and facial expression as a means for checking understanding, engagement, and commitment. The smile is a major tool that has been stolen from our toolbox.
Sure people can nod their head, give you a thumbs up, or any host of other forms of acknowledgement. They do the job, but they’re not the same. Actually, not even close!
We know smiling reduces stress, helps heart health, lowers blood pressure, and boosts our immune system. We also know, just less scientifically, that we’re better leaders, followers, and people when we smile.
Our smile is our magnet.
REAL TALK - Action Steps So, what do we do? It doesn’t seem like the masks are going away anytime soon, but not smiling seeing smiles can’t be the option. Here are a few ideas for you to consider.
Be Intentional with Your Body Language
In the absence of your facial expressions, the rest of your body language becomes even more important. Be intentional with how you enter a room so you can express energy and excitement. If you leave your body language to chance, you leave your message and your impact to chance.
Be intentional with What You Say
Of course your words matter. What you say becomes even more important when a smile or smirk can’t imply a different meaning. Choose your words in a way that your message can not be misunderstood - not in a way that you hope it can be understood.
Be Intentional with How You Say It
The context of your message is important, but so is how it is being said. The pace, volume, tone of your message is critical in conveying your message effectively. A mask makes this more difficult, but not impossible. We just have to be more aware of it.
So, smile! Stand six feet away, pull down your mask for three seconds, hold your breath if you need to … but smile. You need it and the people you’re smiling at need it too!
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